News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

It's Back To School Time For Energy Efficiency Program

California schools have a new shot at becoming more energy efficient | Photo: Joe Wolf/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Most schools in California spend more on their energy bills than they do on school supplies. But schools struggling with high power and gas bills now have a state agency they can turn to for advice and expertise in cutting those bills down. The California Energy Commission (CEC) announced today that it's reviving its Bright Schools program, which provides funding for energy efficiency audits and assistance in designing retrofitting programs for California's public schools.

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The Bright Schools program's mission is to provide publicly funded K-12 schools in California with technical assistance as they plan equipment upgrades, retrofitting, and new construction to make sure that the schools squeeze every penny's worth out of the power they buy, while making sure students have a comfortable, well-lit environment in which to learn.

The program can also connect school administrators with appropriate skilled contractors, and the California Energy Commission offers qualifying schools low-cost loans once expert and thorough energy efficiency plans are drawn up.

Interested schools can fill out applications for a Bright Schools energy audit by downloading them from the CEC's website. There's no deadline for applications, but funds are limited and applications will be evaluated on a first-come first-serve basis. Energy audits are performed by CEC consultants, and the CEC covers up to $20,000 of the cost of the audit -- meaning that for many participating schools, the CEC covers the complete cost of the audit. Not a bad deal for the state's struggling schools.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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