The Los Angeles Unified School District has been awarded $578,500 in energy and water-efficiency program rebates from Southland utility companies, with the funds to be used toward purchase of new commercial kitchen equipment, it was reported Wednesday.

The LAUSD received $482,500 from the Southern California Gas Company and $96,000 in rebates from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

The rebates are related to the purchase of nearly 200 new high-efficiency natural gas pressureless steamers to be placed in the kitchens at more than 90 LAUSD schools.

Representatives from SoCalGas, MWD and LADWP presented the rebate checks at the May 28 Board of Education Committee of the Whole meeting.

The new equipment will be used to prepare lunches for more than 120,000 LAUSD students. The steamers replaced 15- to 20-year-old units that were much less energy and water efficient than the new models.

In addition to the cost savings on the purchase of the equipment, the LAUSD will save more than 285,000 “therms” of natural gas and about 163 million gallons of water over its lifetime.

“We are always on the lookout for ways to help our customers save money and energy and reduce emissions to help fight climate change,” said Dan Rendler, director of customer programs at SoCalGas.

“Metropolitan has made it a priority to improve water efficiency wherever we can — in homes, in businesses and in schools … (and) we’re grateful to Los Angeles Unified and SoCalGas for making the effort to conserve water,” said MWD water efficiency manager Bill McDonnell.

“LADWP is excited to be a part of Los Angeles Unified’s push to increase efficiency in their food preparation process,” said Sharon Grove, LADWP assistant general manager of the Customer Service Division. “This is another example of our successful joint endeavor to bring water and energy efficiency benefits to our local schools.”

“Los Angeles Unified is very excited about enhancing our food menu to provide our students with more variety and options,” said school district Director of Food Services Manish Singh. “Los Angeles Unified will continue to add steamers at more schools.”

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