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San Marcos Unified gets $4.1 million energy grant

SAN MARCOS — The San Marcos Unified School District recently received a $4.1 million grant from the state Energy Commission to complete energy efficiency upgrades throughout its campuses.

The district expects to use the grant funding, which will be dispersed over the next four years, on a range of projects, including replacing older and inefficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning units, optimize the district’s energy management system and install LED lighting, both interior and exterior, and install solar panel systems at the district’s 18 school sites.

District officials anticipate saving more than 1 million kilowatts in annual energy savings when the plan is fully implemented.

“We are excited that San Marcos Unified School District will be able to utilize these grant funds to improve the sustainable quality of our facilities while also reducing overall district expenditures and life-cycle costs,” said Khary Knowles, the district’s executive director of facilities.

The district partnered with the firm Schneider Electric for the grant application and execution of its energy plan.

The funding is in conjunction with Proposition 39, which voters approved in 2012 and changed how out-of-state corporations could calculate the taxes they paid. The result was a $1 billion annual tax windfall, half of which was earmarked for clean energy projects.

San Marcos’ award was the second-largest grant awarded to a San Diego County school district. Vista Unified School District received a $4.7 million grant toward its clean-energy projects.

The grants are not of the matching variety, which means the state monies will pay for the entirety of the school district’s projects.