New lights to save $459,000 a year in Hacienda La Puente Unified

Duy Ha installs new lights, ballast system, and motion sensors at La Puente High School .

Duy Ha installs new lights, ballast system, and motion sensors at La Puente High School .

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Who knew changing old lights and turning them off when you leave the room could save $543,692 a year? It’s a lesson that the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District has learned over the past year.

It saw big savings when it hired Schneider Electric to redo the lighting at Orange Grove Middle School and Cedarlane Academy in Hacienda Heights.

Now, it’s spending $6.75 million to modernize the lighting at its biggest energy users, the four high schools. The district figures the changes will cut the district’s electric bill by 14 percent.

Fortunately, Hacienda La Puente Unified was one of the first school districts to apply for funding from Prop 39. In 2012, California voters approved the proposition to invest $2.5 billion in energy efficiency projects at schools and community colleges.

“Among the 1,000 plus school districts in California, we are one of the larger school districts, and one of only 47 districts with an approved Prop 39 plan,” said School Board President Gino Kwok.

The district’s Prop 39 project has been approved by the California Energy Commission for the entire five-year program. It will receive an estimated $4,435,680.

“In addition to simplifying the entire process, partnering with Schneider Electric allowed us to directly address our most pressing energy efficiency problems through an integrated approach,” said Associate Superintendent Annie Bui. “We now have a full five-year energy savings plan that will help maximize every Prop 39 dollar.”

Contractors have already redone the lighting at Willow Adult Campus in La Puente, as well as district’s offices. Now, workers are shifting to the four high schools.

“These six sites use approximately 47 percent of the district’s total energy cost annually,” said Maintenance Director Mark Hansberger.

Improvements include new classroom lighting as well as sensors that turn off the lights when no one is present. Work crews will also install LED lighting on the exterior and in the gymnasiums, plus new heating and cooling controls.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story LIGHTS.

Los Altos High teen named Dell Scholar in Hacienda Heights

Jacqueline Alas is an AVID learner. And it has paid off for the 17-year-old senior at Los Altos High School, who has been named a Dell Scholarship recipient.

The Whittier resident will receive $20,000 over the next six years for college.

The student everyone calls Jackie credits the AVID program at Los Altos for helping her pursue her dream. The petite pupil wants to become a lawyer, then work as a public prosecutor.

She became interested in law when her sister began working for a law firm.

“I want to make a real difference in people’s lives,” Alas explained. “I’ve seen how the law can protect people and keep them safe.”



The teen takes several advanced placement courses at the Los Altos, in Hacienda Heights. She has a 3.9 grade point average and is a member of the dance team.

Alas is applying to Cal Poly Pomona and UC Santa Cruz. She plans to study criminal justice, before going on to law school. But right now, she’s enjoying the well wishes of students and staff.

“We’re all very proud of Jackie and what she’s accomplished,” said Principal Cheli McReynolds. “She’s a good indicator of what students can accomplish if they work hard.”

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story DELL.