Public Sector


Desert Sands Unified School District

Desert Sands Unified School District

The Opportunity

In 2014, Desert Sands Unified School District looked to address deferred maintenance needs while improving the learning environment at several school facilities. The District partnered with OpTerra to modernize older schools and implement a pilot renewable energy project. OpTerra helped the District to leverage their Prop. 39 funding opportunity, minimizing the district contribution to the comprehensive program and lowering future district utility expenditures.

The Partnership

The District recognized the great financial and environmental benefits of upgrading their facilities. Plans were made to replace existing air conditioning units at La Quinta High School and bring the lighting systems at older schools up-to-date with new LED fixtures.

The economic advantages for the District are vast. OpTerra helped apply for and secure Desert Sands’ $6.4 million in Prop. 39 funding to act as a foundation for the larger district-wide energy program. With the project costing nearly $13 million, the project pays for itself in less than 6 years, saving $629,000 per year. Additionally, OpTerra ensured an energy savings guarantee and ongoing solar maintenance.

The Impact

Through this successful partnership, OpTerra developed a program for the District that would secure funding resources, resulting in maximum financial benefits. Over the life of the program, the upgrades and pilot renewable energy project will produce savings of approximately $19.5 million.

OpTerra delivered great economic savings benefits to the District while greatly reducing energy use. By eliminating financial risk to the district through a proven approach with no costs up front, the district met the needs of their students while meeting the requirements of Prop 39. The students and school community now enjoy their improved facilities and have secured renewable energy solutions for the future.

The Technical Scope

  • Installed 153 new air-conditioning units and upgraded air-conditioning controls at La Quinta High School
  • Installed 6,700 new LED classroom lighting fixtures at two middle schools and three elementary schools.
  • Constructed new solar shade parking structures at Palm Desert High School, including ongoing solar maintenance by OpTerra