Audit: Schools not getting enough from energy efficiency
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
An audit by the Oregon Secretary of State's office found that schools aren't always making the best use of energy efficiency funds.
The Oregon Secretary of State's office released an audit Monday that found that Oregon school districts could have garnered $40 million more in utility bill savings by spending money more effectively on energy efficiency measures.
The audit, available here, analyzed 6,859 measures identified in school energy audits spread across 111 Oregon school districts between 2002 and 2010. It examined how schools were spending energy surcharge funds, a 3 percent charge on electricity bills established by the Oregon Legislature in 1999 to fund energy conservation programs.
The audit found that school districts could have realized better energy and utility cost savings but using the funds more effectively for energy efficiency. It also determined that there is no clear oversight of the funds and how they are put to use.
In 2009 and 2010, schools received a total of $15.7 million for energy efficiency measures.
"I recognize the funding challenges facing districts, and that a school district might choose to replace a boiler so students weren’t faced with cold classrooms, even if that wasn’t the most energy efficient option," said Secretary of State Kate Brown in a press release. "This audit is an excellent learning tool districts can use to ensure the best value for the future of these funds. At the end of the day, lower utility bills would mean more money available for the classroom."
Funding for school efficiency measures was in the spotlight last year with Gov. John Kitzhaber's Cool Schools initiative, a program to invest in energy efficiency improvements for Oregon schools.
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