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School districts not taking full advantage of energy efficiency programs

Auditors estimate districts could have saved $40 million

Oregon school districts are missing out on taking advantage of subsidy programs that could lower their utility bills and save energy, according to a new state audit.

Auditors overseen by the Secretary of State's office pored through 6,859 measures identified in school energy audits from 2002 to 2010, and found school districts often didn't implement the most cost-saving recommendations. Often school districts could have taken advantage of Energy Trust of Oregon benefits, or similar ones provided elsewhere in the state, that would reduce the costs of the projects

Auditors estimated that 111 school districts could have collectively saved $40 million in their utility bills and reduced energy use by 70 percent over the lives of the 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. 'At the end of the day, lower utility bills would mean more money available for the classroom.'

The full audit report is available at sos.state.or.us/audits.