California’s schools have been at the leading edge of the Golden State’s “green” energy transition – a still growing wave of fundamental change in energy production, distribution and use that is transforming California’s economy and the environment.

In November 2012 California voters ushered Proposition 39 – the California Clean Energy Jobs Act – into being. The vote and subsequent implementation of the act by state agencies led by the California Energy Commission (CEC) is providing a big boost for California’s K-12 schools and community colleges looking to carry out energy efficiency and clean energy projects.

Voting to closing tax loopholes that had benefited out-of-state corporations, Californians approved of the measure allocating half projected annual revenues of around $500 million out to 2017 for local educational agencies to carry out energy efficiency and clean energy projects. The other half is flowing into the treasury’s general fund.

At the leading edge of California’s clean energy transition

Passing a 2013-2014 state budget in August 2013, Senate Bill 73 allocated over $460 million of Proposition 39 funds for energy efficiency and clean energy projects at K-12 schools and community colleges. Senate Bill 73 specifies the details of how the funds will be allocated, including requirements designed to ensure funds deliver expected energy efficiency and cost savings.

Later that year, in November, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that $106 million of first-round Proposition 39 revenue was heading to school districts so they could begin planning energy efficiency projects.

Solar energy and Electric Vehicle charging station usage at U.S. schools have soared, doubling every year for the past six. The installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems by California schools is yielding multiple benefits, not only for schools, students, faculty and families in communities across the state, but across California and beyond.

Reduced greenhouse gas emissions and other types of environmental pollution is one big, long-term benefit. Affordable clean energy with zero fuel costs is another. Prop 39, aptly named the California Clean Energy Jobs Act – attests, California’s clean energy and energy efficiency drive is creating and sustaining local jobs, and plenty of them.

Advanced Energy storage: The key to unlocking the full potential of renewable energy

California continued to lead the nation in driving the clean energy transition with the passage of AB2514, which requires the state’s power utilities to acquire 1.325 gigawatts (GW) of energy storage capacity by the end of the decade.

As California reduces its reliance on fossil-fueled generation and expands its use of renewable resources, there is a growing consensus that energy storage can best address the operational realities of intermittent renewable generation and transform this generation into firm, dispatchable resources that utilities can rely on.

Qualified Prop 39 energy-efficiency investments, distributed energy storage has enormous potential to integrate these clean, renewable energy resources on both sides of the meter, provide grid support and ancillary services to increase reliability, and shift load or reduce peak demand.

Employing the latest in lithium-ion (Li-ion) advanced battery storage and patented software algorithms, intelligent energy storage solutions such as Green Charge’s GreenStationTM hold the key to building a smart, clean, more efficient and cost-effective power grid and realizing California’s clean energy and energy efficiency goals.

Maximizing Prop 39 funding via intelligent energy storage

Utility peak power demand charges account for a large portion – as much as 40 percent – of California schools’ electricity bills. By storing energy during non-peak hours, such as late evenings, and delivering electricity during peak hours, the GreenStation yields substantial energy savings each and every month.

“Shaving” schools’ peak electricity demand also strengthens utility grids by lowering the amount of electricity they need to deliver during daily periods of peak demands. That lowers peak electricity costs and reduces the amount of infrastructure – new generating stations and distribution lines – they need to invest in.

Intelligently storing energy when costs and usage are low, schools will save a substantial amount of money – Every dollar saved, can go back to educating students.

August 31, 2014 was the last day for local educational agencies to submit their fiscal year 2013-14 Energy Expenditure Plan (EEP) to the CEC. Permitted one EEP per fiscal year, EEPs received from September 1, 2014 forward will be considered and should be designated for fiscal year 2014-15. Schools’ unused Prop 39 allocations are rolled forward.