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Recovery Funds To Help Oregon Schools

 Paul Egbert 
 Ann Grim
10-44In Oregon 1-800-221-8035
Students returning to many Oregon public schools in September will notice that they can see the blackboard better or that their classroom windows aren’t as drafty. The lighting upgrades, window replacements and other energy efficiency projects completed this summer were funded by federal stimulus funds awarded by the Oregon Department of Energy to school districts throughout the state.
The Oregon Department of Energy awarded more than $11 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) funds through the State Energy Program to 60 school districts in 31 counties. The funds were designated for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. While many projects were completed this summer, some of the school districts’ projects have not started. School districts have until February 15, 2012 to complete the projects.
“We’ve provided stimulus funds for projects at large school districts, such as Portland Public Schools and Beaverton, to small districts, such as Fossil and Mitchell,” said Paul Egbert, State Energy Program lead project manager with the Oregon Department of Energy which awards and oversees the funds. “Not only do contractors benefit from the jobs, but students and teachers will have better lighting and more comfortable classrooms, and school districts will save on their electricity bills now and into the future.”
Some comments from school district staff who have new energy projects in place:
“The old lights gave out a yellow light. Now they’re white,” said Cistie Shaffer, deputy clerk with the Fossil School District in Wheeler County. “Best of all, the annoying humming sound of the old lights is gone.”
“We missed some classrooms when we replaced the majority of T-12s in the mid ‘90s (with energy-efficient T-8 lights),” said Portland Public Schools Energy Specialist Catherine Diviney. “This grant gave us the opportunity to eliminate all T-12s from the district.”
“We were at the point where we could no longer get the type of incandescent bulbs used in the gym lights,” said Sue Horton, superintendent for Mitchell School District in Wheeler County. “We knew what needed to be done to upgrade the lights, but in this community there was no budget for an upgrade.”
“It worked out well and we appreciate the money to do this,” said Condon School District Maintenance Manager Dallas Harsin about the high school gym’s new energy-efficient lights. “We could never have done it without those funds.”
A list of all Oregon school districts that received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, the type of project and amount awarded is available at www.oregon.gov/ENERGY/Recovery/docs/List_schools.pdf.