Eight years after Mike Tarantino pulled out the stops trying to reduce electricity use across the  Poway Unified School District, he still lives with trepidation that a heat wave will spike air conditioning use, or a cold snap will prompt an outbreak of furtive space heaters.

Then electrical use and costs will surge, and the effect will be lasting, making up, for example, more than $38,000 of a total $70,000 one-month electric bill for Del Norte High School last year.

“It is a nasty tier,” Tarantino said.

The higher costs are known as “demand” charges, and Tarantino has done much to avoid them.

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