Alternative school serves as a model
Woodburn's Success Alternative High School recently received praise from the Energy Trust of Oregon, which commended the building's energy efficiency.
Energy Trust published its annual report in mid July, highlighting that 9,300 Willamette Valley customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power and NW Natural participated in the Trust's programs during 2018.
The report noted that by improving the energy efficiency of their homes and businesses, and by generating clean renewable energy, Willamette Valley customers collectively saved $110.9 million on their energy bills in 2018.
Success High School, which utilizes solar panels to generate energy, was spotlighted as an exemplary model of efficiency.
The Energy Trust report declared:
"One such customer is Success High School in Woodburn, Ore. This newly constructed school was the first high school enrolled in Energy Trust's Path to Net Zero initiative. Thanks to its clean energy features and solar system, Success High School will save an estimated $33,000 annually. In fact, thanks to its efforts to maximize energy efficiency, the school uses so little energy that most, if not all, of its annual energy needs should be met by its 250-kilowatt solar system on campus."
Woodburn School District's recently retired Superintendent Chuck Ransom elaborated.
"The goal is to make the school net zero—reducing operating costs and using that money for books and technology that enhance our students' learning experience," Ransom said.
It wasn't the first time Energy Trust praised Success. When the school held its ceremonial grand opening last fall, representatives from the group were in attendance.
"Success was the first high school in the state to enroll in our Net-Zero initiative, which is one of our highest levels of engagement in energy efficiency," said Debbie Menashe, a staff liaison with Energy Trust. "We helped the school get to a point where over the course of a year its energy use will equal its energy production."
Menashe then pointed outside through one of the school's bright, northeasterly-facing windows to the solar panels outside the school.
"That's an astounding array to drive up to for someone like me (working in energy efficiency). You have an opportunity to make energy right here; be net-zero in this building," she added.
Woodburn School District Board made the energy-efficient plan a priority from step one. It was no easy task, but it was well worthwhile.
"This wasn't an easy piece of property to develop," Ranson said. "This was an odd piece of property right from the very beginning. But I think as you hear about it and look around a little bit you'll agree that it was well worth it."
As the first k-12 school to enroll in Energy Trust's Path to Net Zero initiative, Success received technical assistance to maximize efficiency and solar potential in its new building, according to Susan Jowaiszas, Energy Trust Marketing Lead-Energy Programs. She estimated that not only would Success save more than $33,000 in energy bills annually, but Energy Trust's incentives saved WSD more than $76,000 on installation.
"Success Alternative High School is a great lesson in how energy efficiency and renewable energy do more than simply save energy and cut costs. With an innovative design, this high school is creating a great learning environment filled with natural light and comfortable spaces for both teachers and students," Jowaiszas said. "This is the first high school to enroll in Energy Trust's Path to Net Zero initiative, and we're proud to have helped a school strive for their goal of generating as much energy as they use."
In 2018 Energy Trust supported energy-efficiency upgrades and renewable energy installations at more than 48,000 Oregon and Southwest Washington homes, businesses, factories and farms through a network of more than 2,300 trade ally contractors.
Energy Trust reports said it delivered $94.3 million in cash incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy investments. Since 2002, it has invested $1.8 billion in utility customer funds to deliver benefits including $7.7 billion in total utility bill savings over time and $7.3 billion added to Oregon's economy.
"When we save energy, utilities do not need to generate, purchase or distribute it to meet the needs of their customers," said Michael Colgrove, Energy Trust's executive director. "This saves customers money and more. The benefits of energy efficiency also include a healthier environment from fewer carbon dioxide emissions, stronger local economies and more resilient communities."
Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and generating renewable power.
Energy Trust's services, cash incentives and energy solutions have helped participating customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas and Avista save $3.4 billion on energy bills.
The Trust's aim is to help keep energy costs as low as possible, create jobs and build a sustainable energy future.
For information, visit www.energytrust.org or call 1-866-368-7878.
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