Prop 39: The Santa Rosa Story

santa-rosaIn July of 2015, EcoMotion received a call from the Santa Rosa Academy (SRA), a charter school in Menifee, California that features varying levels of home schooling to its students and their families. SRA’s principal, Laura Badillo, was a bit puzzled. She’d heard of a Prop 39 for school facilities, but is there another Prop 39 she asked? Her son works at the California Center for Sustainable Energy and recommended she call EcoMotion.

Yes, there is another Prop 39 for school energy efficiency, the California Clean Energy Jobs Act. It turned out that SRA was entitled to about a half million in funding over the five-year Prop 39 funding cycle. Not surprisingly, Laura was pleased to hear it and to take steps to use the funds. So we visited SRA’s campus two hours southeast of LA.

SRA’s campus is clean and fresh and brand new. They’ve been on this campus for just two years. It’s thriving with native landscaping accenting student common areas. The campus buildings feature Spanish-style architecture with red clay roof tiles and white stucco walls. Its facilities were all built to California’s rigorous Title 24 building standards. Upon first blush, it appeared that there was little to be done to make this charter school more efficient.

Laura is most gracious: She’s a rock star and at the helm of this ship. The school is gorgeous and thriving. Everyone is pleasant and energized. It’s a pleasure to be on campus. We explained the Prop 39 program and show her SRA’s allocation schedule. We talked options for use of the funds, from weather-sealing doors to better controlling air conditioning units to advanced energy storage. Yes, the school has had a keen interest in solar she stated. This led to a full-blown investigation.

EcoMotion went on rooftops but they were tiled or too small to support a significant array. We explored parking lots but newly planted trees dampened interest in solar there. With SRA officials, we looked at other areas for ground-mounted solar, and even contemplated a creative design involving construction of a solar canopy above the running track. Ultimately we decided to put solar on the new gym in construction.

Fast forward to the date just a few weeks ago when SRA christened and energized the 86.3 kW photovoltaic array… installed at no cost to the school. After a competitive bidding process managed by EcoMotion, Skelly Electric was selected for the $362,770 installation. The school also got an extra and special roof coating to handle the system. And beyond being able to boast about its solar system, first-year bill savings are projected to be $47,700, with ~ $1.8 million in savings over 20 years thanks to the value of solar generation when coupled with a rate switch to a “solar friendly” tariff known in Southern California Edison as Option R.

And there’s still money left over! Thus EcoMotion is now putting in a wireless control system for the school’s HVAC units. We’re also putting in 73 smart thermostats, timers for exterior lights and for bathroom fans that had been running 24*7. SRA is also able to subscribe to an energy dashboard service to monitor and evaluate energy consumption and utility costs, making its green energy works clear and exciting for its students and the entire school community.

All told, SRA is a very happy client and now our team is replicating the model at nearby Sycamore Academy. At first unsure of it’s Prop 39 opportunity, Santa Rosa Academy is now able to boast green electrons on campus, and to be able to educate its 1,500 students about renewable power and how the SRA school community is making a significant and measurable difference in crafting a global, sustainable future.

EcoMotion is pleased to serve a number of school districts and charter schools in California – nearly 130 campuses — with energy management services. We’re also pleased to announce that in December, EcoMotion was retained by the City of Santa Monica to manage the Solar Santa Monica program, extending the ten years of service that we have supported the City with its award-winning solar program.