Schools to receive lighting upgrades

Local schools will receive almost $1 million in free upgrades starting next week, thanks to the state Public Utilities Commission.

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District approved an agreement Tuesday with Southern California Edison to be a part of its Public Schools Program, which will go into each school and district facility to upgrade indoor lights where needed. It will save the district an expected $220,000 in utility costs, according to the board agenda.

An estimated $940,000 in upgrades will be put into Newport-Mesa Unified properties, with the district only contributing labor — which was already allocated — to oversee and inspect the projects, said Tim Marsh, the district's administrative director of facilities support services.

"I just think it's wonderful that the Public Utilities Commission decided to continue this program so more school districts could be involved," Marsh said.

Marsh said he's never seen a program that offers public schools free energy-efficient upgrades.

The program, which is being managed by Edison, will replace lights with more energy-efficient ones that lose less heat and require less energy where needed. It will also remove lights where possible and install motion sensors that turn off lights when no one is around, Marsh said.

Although the goal is to be more energy efficient, proper lighting isn't being sacrificed, according to the agenda.

"We will still be above the standard design criteria for a classroom, office or work space," Marsh said.

The audit of what can be upgraded started three weeks ago and the physical work is expected to begin next week, Marsh said.

The district applied for the program last year, but originally didn't think it would be included due to demand.

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