Energy-efficient schools receive rebate rewards

Jeff Benson

Five district schools pulled the plug on their energy usage over the

summer and now have some money to burn.

Estancia, Corona del Mar, Newport Harbor and Costa Mesa high

schools, and Lincoln Elementary School, made at least a 20% reduction

on their average daily electricity use from July through September,

compared with the same billing period last summer.

District Energy Manager Kent Ramseyer presented four of the

schools with rebate checks from Southern California Edison in

November through the company's 20/20 Rebate Program. The program

gives a 20% rebate for all commercial and industrial customers with

time-of-use meters that measure energy consumption in more detail

than typical energy meters. Corona del Mar High School will receive

its refund Thursday.

Since the five schools are among the largest in the district,

they're the only district schools equipped with the time-of-use

boxes, Ramseyer said.

Estancia and Corona del Mar high schools were the most efficient,

saving $5,370 and $5,025, respectively. The other schools saved

between $137 and $816.

Costa Mesa and Newport Harbor high schools didn't save as much as

their counterparts because each of them underwent extensive Measure A

construction projects over the summer and used a lot of electricity,

Ramseyer said.

But the two schools still managed to reduce their costs by more

than 20%, despite all the drilling and circuitry work, he said.

Some of the schools helped out by turning off their cooling

systems early, and summer school teachers and custodians did their

part by putting the schools' computers on sleep timers and by opening

doors for ventilation, he said.

"We have the potential to save a lot of money, and that translates

into more programs for local schools," Ramseyer said. "These are ways

that they can really help out in tough troubles like California's."

Corona del Mar Principal Bob Metz said he plans to use the money

for dance equipment, for accreditation projects and for supplies to

enhance the learning environment for the school's 23 new teachers.

"What we did, in checking it all out, is anything we could program

differently, we did," Metz said. "We unplugged equipment that drew

energy, we were able to reprogram thermostats and we decreased the

lighting on campus."

Estancia staff members conserved money by not running the air

conditioning when the building was less than full and by shutting the

computers off when they weren't in use, Principal Tom Antal said.

The school will use its rebate for technology, Antal said.

"The teachers really felt the upgrades of computers to keep them

current was important, considering that's where the savings came

from," he said.

Newport Harbor High School, which received a check for $816, will

spend the money on classroom equipment and supplies, Principal

Michael Vossen said. Lincoln Elementary is using its check for

instructional supplies.

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