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Halifax County Trustees hear energy efficiency proposals

SoVaNow.com / July 11, 2013
Halifax County trustees on Monday afternoon heard a report on a proposal for energy efficiency from Maintenance Director Larry Roller. In a 45 minute presentation Roller outlined a proposal which was made to him by Cenergistic which has 1,250 clients nationwide, including 22 school systems in Virginia and Washington and Lee University.

The Cenergistic proposal points to statistics that show their clients have achieved energy savings of 20 to 30 percent, oftentimes even more. And they guarantee that if savings don’t exceed a system’s investment they will refund the difference.

The program which is based on a four-year contract calls for the hiring of an energy specialist with salary ranging between $50,000 to $60,00 annually. Travel costs are estimated at $3,000 and accounting software at $6,650 while the school system must pay Cenergistic $122,400 annually. That brings the total expense of the program to $187,050 for the first year. With gross energy savings projected at $282,000 that would leave the school system with a savings of $94,950 during the first year with savings over the next three years climbing to as much as $157,807.

Roller stressed to the board that he was not necessarily recommending their acceptance of the program, but was simply sharing Cenergistic’s proposal with them. He added he would be happy to have a company representative meet with the board if they so desired.

ED-6 trustee Fay Satterfield questioned Roller about an earlier energy program that had included the hiring of a special energy manager, asking why the program had been discontinued after several years.

Roller said he did not remember the specifics of that program but added that he had an alternate idea to share about the potential for energy savings. His plan, he said, would be to hire an energy manager at approximately $40,000 plus benefits who would check on the proper usage on a regular schedule. He noted that even during the summer months and weekends when school facilities are unoccupied, electric bills are running $23 per hour at the four largest schools —Halifax County High School, Halifax County Middle School, South Boston and Cluster Springs elementary schools.

Roller said he felt the schools had a good enough system that could be expanded with the hiring of an energy specialist who would “dog” the work daily in cutting down on unnecessary consumption. “We need more manpower.” He added that he would hate to see the school system having to pay an outside provider $122,400 annually to do something that could be done in house.

Roller also presented trustees with another proposal, this one from Enernoc which might save the schools some $17,000 a year in cost avoidance by offering a peak load reduction strategy. Trustees had questions about the plan and how the reduced energy level might affect both teachers and students on the hot days in August and September.

School board members took no action on any of the energy savings plans but asked Roller to gather more information on the plans from schools that are already using the programs.

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