California Proposition 39: Preparing Your School District for 2018-2020 Timelines, Amendments and Final Reporting

Now that we’ve passed the deadline for all Proposition 39 (Prop-39) funding requests, Energy Expenditure Plans (EEPs) and EEP Amendments, what lies ahead for your school district?

Timelines

The well-published future deadlines for the program are:

  • June 30, 2019: Funding Encumbrance Deadline
  • June 30, 2020: Project Completion Deadline

You should know what programmatic milestones lie between your district and success between now and then.

The Energy Commission (CEC) has announced a preliminary deadline of June 30, 2018 for scope amendments. The amendment tool, in this case, is to be used for change of scope greater than 15% of the approved EEP. Any added measure, deleted measure or change to an existing measure above the 15% threshold warrants an Amendment request to inform the CEC of these changes.

The encumbrance deadline of June 30, 2019 is in the not-too-distant future. Although many measures do not require in-depth engineering or DSA review, this timeline can and will sneak up on even the most prepared facilities team. With possible design reviews based on structural considerations for weight or other physical changes, DSA may be triggered. Either way, soft-costs for measure implementation can also eat into your funding, for which planning and preparation is key.

Amendments

The Amendment request (or Amendment Application) consists of a fairly straightforward questionnaire. It also needs to include revised measure calculations (savings and cost) so CEC staff can gauge the impact of these changes on SIR (Savings-to-Investment Ratio) and other program metrics.

I have found that the SIR Workbook tool (from the CEC/Prop-39 website) is invaluable in helping your district stay on top of these important program parameters. By using the SIR tool, district program managers can make real time decisions as to the financial and programmatic impact of their anticipated changes in scope.

Projects costs are always in flux. We are seeing measure costs come in with a wide range of variance based on the scope and assumptions in the original project estimates. From LED light fixtures to high efficiency HVAC rooftop units, prices and product availability can and will have an impact on your project, whether it be reduced (or increased) scope, timelines due to product lead-times, or the ever-changing technologies which impact our product choices.

Prop-39 project integration with Bond Measures and other means of facility modernization is another huge factor in project implementation. Several K-12 clients, whose fully-funded EEPs where approved in the first year, are now making sweeping changes to the approved scope based on other sources of project funding, facility use changes and again, the continuing shift in energy efficient technology.

There are no limits to the changes a district can make in their approved plans other than adding a site: if a school facility is not included in an approved plan, it cannot be added through the amendment process…that door is closed! Any changes made to an approved plan must, of course, meet the same metric thresholds as with the original plan, the primary litmus test being the overall SIR.

Amendment Newsflash!

The preliminary amendment deadline of June 30, 2018 for changes in scope, as described above, is still under review. In speaking with CEC representatives, the “official” word is as stated. However, as districts face ongoing changes in scope, continued advances in technologies and other facility upgrade initiatives, there will always be those “special cases”! We continue to advise our clients to stay on top of these changes as they occur. Ultimately, any changes in scope can and should be addressed under the Final Project Completion Reporting process at the end of the road.

Final Project Completion Reporting

We have discovered, having been through this process a few times, it is best to plan ahead and have the correct documentation queued-up by your installing contractor(s). What better way to get it done than during the installation process! It is necessary to keep records of project implementation start and completion dates. When your Energy Expenditure Plan (EEP) was submitted, target start and completion dates were estimated, at best. As long as the start date of any Prop-39 project was after Dec-2013, it fits into the program.

Keep good records!

The actual Bill of Materials and/or detailed invoices are what the CEC is really looking for and are expected in the Final Reporting documentation. The more specific and granular, the better. Especially with mechanical systems, such as HVAC equipment with specific serial numbers, it REALLY helps to have as much detail as possible.

Vendor submittals of installed equipment are also valuable to a CEC reviewing engineer: anything that indicates manufacturer’s rated performance and other similar characteristics. Consider having records (i.e. spreadsheet) of HVAC Model/Serial #’s as mandatory.

Take pictures!

Especially when it pertains to HVAC equipment, we recommend taking several photos of each unit; this means the fan coil/furnace/evaporator AND the condenser of a split system; this means each rooftop unit, etc. When an HVAC system is commissioned (documented testing and start-up) there should be a record of each system component. It is best to take a photo of the unit, the name plate and the tag number, so that the photos are properly organized.

Once again, good organization upfront will make the reporting process that much easier and painless, and less costly; getting staff or consultants to climb back onto roofs for photo sessions is a waste of your time and precious resources!

In the case of lighting, controls, and similar “small” and more numerous components, NO, photos of every individual part and piece are not required. Use judgement and take photos of “typical” installations and components; best to have perhaps two photos of each type of fixture. In the case of lamps and ballasts for example, one photo of a ballast and lamp type will generally suffice. The same applies to HVAC and lighting controls components (e.g. thermostats, occupancy sensors, etc.).

Document all costs

Total cost of a measure is key, soft costs included!  Be smart, be flexible! If a measure was “over-funded” compared to what you spent, make sure you have included all potential soft costs incurred by your district. If the Measure was under-funded….well, that may be a simple fact, make sure you account for all of your project costs.

Energy performance of any facility can have dozens of influences, and since re-benchmarking is also a Final Reporting requirement, the LEA needs to be aware of other performance-related factors of facility operation like changes in ADA, change of use & hours, facility expansions and any other such factors which can impact electrical and natural gas loads, etc.

Final Reports (as well as Annual Progress Reports) are typically due by September 30th of each year. Email reminders from the CEC are be sent to the Authorized Representative (District) and Project Managers (Consultants) in most cases. ALL measures within a single EEP must be completed (if they are still in the “plan”) prior to Final Report submittal.

Final Completion Reports are best accompanied by a cover letter which outlines the scope of work, any changes to that scope and any unforeseen energy savings surprises, etc. It is best to think of the Cover Letter as a “Road Map” for the CEC project manager when they conduct their review of your Final Report submittal.

Submitting Final Energy Savings

Finally, energy savings statements in the Final Report are critical and final savings assessments. These are specific to each individual facility and are the responsibility of the district and/or their consultant. Because there are no direct guidelines as to how a district can and should seek compliance on this matter, we recommend four alternative methods of acceptable savings documentation in the Final Report:

  1. Utility Incentive Completion Report
  2. Energy Commission Energy Savings Calculators Report
  3. LEA’s own final energy savings report
  4. Third-party final energy savings report

 

Your audit report(s) are the foundation of your savings estimates, which have already been entered into the CEC EEP database. Any other form of energy accounting, EMS trending, EnergyCAP, etc. will be helpful in supporting your energy savings documentation.

If your district has on-site solar PV generation, current utility data and any available solar system (such as vendor supplied) software output will be extremely helpful in performing this energy “balance” of post-project performance.

Crossing the Finish Line

Prop-39 is a valuable fiscal tool for California school districts to make a positive impact by decreasing their carbon footprint and improving learning environments. Though navigating the program process can be overwhelming, it’s understandable that the CEC requires adequate documentation that ensures tax payer funds are utilized with the program’s intention of improving energy efficiency and creating clean energy jobs. Make sure you maintain good records during your project process and stay on top of your timelines and you’ll be well positioned for Proposition 39 success.

If you need any guidance with your Proposition 39 projects, we’d be happy to help. Please contact us any time.

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