Available Financing

SMC Energy Watch can help you apply for these loans.   

  • PG&E 0% On-Bill Financing - Public school districts can borrow up to $1 million for energy efficiency projects with a simple pay-back period of 10 years or less. Private schools can borrow up to $100,000 with a simple pay-back period of 5 years or less. Projects must qualify for incentives from PG&E.  
  • CEC 0% Loans - Public school districts can borrow up to $3 million for energy-saving projects (including renewables). The simple pay-back period must be 15 years or less. 

SMC Energy Watch can provide a list of other school districts that have used these financing mechanisms. We can also arrange for a presentation from PG&E or a conversation with a CEC financing expert to answer questions. Call 650-599-1403 to get started.


San Mateo County Energy Watch and San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE) are partnering to assist public K-12 schools in San Mateo County to reduce energy costs. Our goal is to help public school districts navigate the road to energy efficiency as quickly and cost effectively as possible, taking advantage of all available resources, funding streams, and incentives. In particular, SMCOE and SMC Energy Watch are assisting school districts in navigating the process of preparing expenditure plans to access Prop 39 funds from the California Energy Commission (CEC), and implementing the eventual energy-saving projects that are identified. 

Private schools, including Montessori and Waldorf schools, parochial schools, military academies, private junior colleges, colleges, and universities, can take advantage of PG&E's Energy Efficiency for Private Schools Program.  Preschools can access services as a non-profit or business, depending on their tax status. 

Current Opportunities for Public School Districts

Prop 39 strategy meetings

Districts have the opportunity to meet with our team (Susan Wright - SMC Energy Watch, John Waite – SMC Office of Ed, and Tom Lewis or Napallo Gomez-Somer – PG&E) for help in determining next steps for developing a Prop 39 implementation strategy and for selecting a professional services provider for ongoing support. To set up a strategy meeting, contact Susan Wright at 650-599-1403.

No-cost lighting audits from San Mateo County Energy Watch

Most schools have already replaced inefficient T-12 lamps but might still have exterior lighting and high-bay lights in gyms and multi-purpose rooms that could be retrofit using SMC Energy Watch’s “direct install” lighting audit program. Since Title 24 (building code) is being upgraded starting in July 2014, some rebates for energy efficiency retrofits may drop or be eliminated, making projects more costly. You'll want to move quickly to take advantage of current rebate levels. To hear from customers who have used this program, see the Non-Profits page. To schedule lighting audits for your schools, contact Susan Wright at 650-599-1403.

Assistance applying for Bright Schools Technical Assistance from the California Energy Commission

Bright Schools is a California Energy Commission program that provides up to $20,000 of energy-related technical services per district including: conducting energy audits and feasibility studies, evaluating new construction plans, and developing your Prop 39 expenditure plan. There isn't a deadline, but Bright Schools funds are limited, and will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis.  For help applying, contact Susan Wright at 650-599-1403. If you'd like to do it yourself, you can download the application here:

Benchmarking and auditing water performance

SMC Energy Watch is benchmarking the water usage of public K-12 schools within San Mateo County. Benchmarking provides performance baselines for facilities and illustrates areas for improvement. We will also arrange for domestic and irrigation audits for schools as needed and upon request.  To participate, please contact Kyle Ramey at 650-599-1403.

Milestones to Date

Benchmarked the energy performance of 174 public K-12 schools using Portfolio Manager 

Benchmarking provides energy performance baselines for facilities and illustrates areas for improvement using Portfolio Manager, a free online tool from the Department of Energy. The process takes into account each building’s age, occupancy hours, the climate in the region, square feet, number of personal computers, and the percentage of the facility that is cooled and heated. Schools can use Portfolio Manager to track and report on energy usage, costs, and environmental impact over the lifetime of individual facilities and entire campuses. This enables staff to make informed decisions on retrofitting and construction projects with both the environment and bottom line in mind. At a customized Portfolio Manager training in March 2014, SMC Energy Watch gave school district personnel access to their district's account and walked them through the basics of Portfolio Manager. To learn how to use Portfolio Manager, visit or

Hosted a Prop 39 Funding Workshop on October 10, 2013 at the San Mateo County Office of Education

At this half-day session, superintendents, chief business officers, and facilities directors from 20 out of the 23 school districts in San Mateo County  learned about the process of making school facilities more energy efficient and how to access Prop 39 funding from the California Energy Commission for energy efficiency projects. Presentations and video recordings of sessions are available.