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      Valley schools competing for energy grant

      Schools across the state are competing for an energy grant.

      The grant is aimed at helping public schools reduce energy costs and encourage conservation by replacing old heating and air conditioning equipment.

      There TMs only 25 million dollars to go around and 407 districts from across the state have applied, Rio Grande Valley districts are crossing their fingers hoping they TMll be granted the money.

      The district's air conditioning units have been running for over 10 years.

      They're not as energy efficient as newer models.

      They are in dire need of replacement at this point, said Lucio Mendoza, Mission CISD's finance and operations assistant superintendent.

      Mission, McAllen and other school districts in the Valley have applied for a grant to replace their old air conditioning units.

      We TMre hoping to get some funding if any to be able to replace some of the equipment we have, said Hugo Avila, McAllen ISD's staff engineer.

      The state is offering a Texas Cool Schools Grant to help public schools replace old inefficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

      If we didn TMt get the grant, that would be money that we would have to allocate from our local budgets or our bond program, and those projects have already been classified, said Mendoza.

      Mission CISD is applying for $1,152,000.

      McAllen is applying for $693,000.

      Here in the McAllen school district, we were built in the 1970 TMs, and so a lot of the equipment we have we TMre starting to get to that point where it does need to be replaced, said Avila.

      Some of McAllen ISD's equipment hasn't been replaced since the buildings were built and just replacing the small units can cost around $800.

      The cost of the bigger units is over $30,000.

      With many districts facing smaller budgets, a grant like this would not only help cut replacement costs, but also energy costs.

      It would help us tremendously. We are talking about units that run more efficiently so they use less electricity and cost less to run, said Avila.

      The state is currently reviewing applications.

      The money offered comes from federal stimulus money for energy efficiency programs offered by the Comptroller's State Energy Conservation Office.