Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District

The Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District (COJUSD) is a California school district comprised of 10 K-12 schools within one of the largest unincorporated towns in the state, Cutler and Orosi within Tulare County. The community is a largely Latino demographic consisting of over 50% of families working in the area’s primary industry of agriculture through packing houses or related jobs in the fields. 

Understanding the need to improve facilities for the betterment of their students and community, COJUSD partnered with our SitelogIQ (SIQ) West team in 2014 to carry out energy efficiency and conservation measures under California’s Prop 39 Incentive. After conducting a full audit of the District, our energy assessment team found that eight sites were eligible for a comprehensive interior and exterior lighting retrofit, and one site was found eligible for an HVAC retrofit consisting of seven ground-mount gas-electric units and four heat pump units, resulting in a total project cost of $692,377. 

Making a Lasting Impact on Student Success

While our team’s focus remained on the job to be done for facility improvement and efficiency, this also meant creating space for COJUSD high school students to be part of the project process and furthering its mission of “educating minds, inspiring futures.” 

In 2016, COJUSD’s Academy of Engineering and Green Technology (AEGT) program and SIQ teamed up to establish the Energy Savers Internship Program as a means of providing a professional, work-based environment to high school students. The mission of this program is focused on building student skills and understanding of current energy systems in place to generate and deliver energy, as well as the importance of energy management, efficiency, new technology, and careers in the field.

The Internship Program was completed for four consecutive years, with plans to continue indefinitely. A continued partnership between our team and the District’s Academy of Engineering and Green Technology program, several additional project-based programs have since been created. In 2018, SIQ and COJUSD began constructing lesson plans and curriculum to create project-based learning programs for each High School grade level (9th-12th). All project-based learning programs are centered around solar PV and energy management, providing High School students with exposure to advanced science topics, advancements in technology, and a high volume of industry career opportunities.

“I have realized that knowledge is power. Before I started to do all the things I am doing in the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology, I was a different person. I have built up my skills to speak and have knowledgeable conversations about engineering. My participation in the SitelogIQ Internship gave me a lot of experience. My knowledge will be beneficial for me in college and my career, because I am going to be a Computer Science Engineer.”

Dimitri Hernandez, 2018-2019 Energy Savers Internship Student.

Dimitri is enrolled at CSU Fresno and employed at COJUSD as an After-School Lead in STEM Robotics and is pursuing his passion to teach Computer Science Engineering at Orosi High School.

Big Utility Savings & Optimized Energy Efficiency

The strong foundation we created with the customer over several years and multiple projects led to an ambitious $7 million solar PV project in April of 2018. To best facilitate this new project, our West team in turn engaged our Commercial & Industrial (C&I) business unit for added strength and expertise with the energy management project delivery solutions throughout the entire District.

Our C&I team members played an integral role in the design and major equipment procurement support. In addition, they played a critical role in the overall development of the project and installation at all sites located throughout the entire District.

Through the synergy of both SIQ business units, all solar PV projects reached completion by early 2019. Our project financing team provided funding resources to help offset a portion of the system cost by applying for remaining Prop 39 funds on behalf of the District, earning them $356,000 in funding.

Our SIQ energy experts have continued assisting and educating the District with monitoring and maintaining their various solar PV systems to ensure they continue to operate at maximum potential and optimal utility consumption. Our partnership has created a legacy of hands-on learning and skill-building opportunities for the District’s students to relate their teachings in the solar PV and energy project-based learning programs to real-life systems directly with SIQ professionals. COJUSD is now able to locally generate an average of 63% of the District’s total electric usage by utilizing solar energy produced by the 5 solar PV systems.

Since the implementation of its renewable energy and efficiency measures, COJUSD has saved over $4 Million in utility costs.

With a new project on the horizon, SIQ and COJUSD are currently working to expand their energy efficiency measures by adding solar PV to their new aquatic complex after breaking ground in 2023. 545 new solar panels will be added in this phase – that’s 294 kW of power.

After installation completion, a total of 2,327 solar panels will exist on COJUSD grounds, just shy of 1MW of solar power. 

Watch as COJUSD Superintendent Yolanda Valdez describes how our partnership has impacted her District and community.