In 1999, the Oregon Legislature passed a bill (SB 1149) that created a 3% surcharge on electricity bills to fund energy conservation programs in schools. From 2009 to 2010, 815 eligible schools received a total of $15.7 million for energy efficiency measures. Being eligible meant that an energy audit had to be performed prior to any upgrade in lighting, HVAC, or insulation.
During a 2010 audit, the Secretary of State found that the school districts did not consistently implement the most cost-effective measures to realize the greatest energy savings. The Auditors estimated that 111 school districts could have collectively saved $40 million in their utility bills and reduced energy use by 70 percent over the lives of the measures.
Many of the buildings that consume the most energy had few measures implemented. Of the total measures identified for these high-energy-usage buildings, about 29% were implemented. Additionally, school districts chose some measures that had longer payback periods than their expected lives.
Furthermore, some districts have been slow to use their energy surcharge funds, accumulating balances exceeding 60% or more of the funds they have received. As of December 2010, the balance of unused SB 1149 funds with no measure claims pending totaled approximately $14.4 million for all school districts.
The full audit is available for free here.
Scott Raybin @greensavingsco