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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Shutting Off, Turning Off Saves EV School District $180,000

East Valley School District has saved $180,000 in energy costs and other resources in the last two years.

East Valley works with Washington Water Power, looking for ways to conserve and cut costs of electricity, natural gas - even water, sewer and garbage.

“It’s just a super program,” said Dean Lueck, who helps janitors, teachers and others find ways to save. The WWP program is active in several other area school districts, including Mead, Odessa, Medical Lake, Chewelah and Colville.

“It’s rare that you go into a building and you can’t find 10 percent savings, or even 20 percent savings,” said Lueck, a resource manager for WWP who formerly was superintendent of the school district.

The program has even sparked informal competition between schools within the district to see which building can show the largest savings.

“It’s kind of like an electronic golf game, where you’re always competing with one’s self, but you’re wondering how the other guy next door is doing, too. It’s a wholesome competition,” Lueck said.

Skyview Elementary School is his greatest success story, he said, with a whopping 37 percent energy savings.

How? “Shut it off if it isn’t needed,” said Skyview custodian Jerry Johnson. “Just monitoring the building … If I think it’s not going to freeze, I shut it down.”

In some schools, installing water meters on the pipes for irrigation allowed a savings on their sewer bills. After all, water going onto the playing fields is not going to the sewage treatment plant.

Other savings come through simple means: turning off the lights, and leaving, say, the hall lights off until shortly before students arrive each morning.

Programmable thermostats help. So do timers on the engine heaters in East Valley’s school buses. Recycling programs help. And investing the initial savings into energy efficient equipment helps savings snowball.

“It’s a great game,” Lueck said. “We work with not only janitors, building managers, but teachers and students - anybody who has, I guess, the power to turn on the switch.”

Washington Water Power modeled this program after one in Oregon. The utility intends to expand to other institutions, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices and even cities.

Brian Kealoha, energy services program coordinator for WWP, said the program is open to any other interested school districts.

, DataTimes

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