School board seeks to cut energy costs

Published 1:09 am Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Beaufort County Board of Education on Tuesday approved a plan it hopes will help Beaufort County schools save some $8.3 million in energy costs during the next 10 years.

The board unanimously accepted a proposal from Energy Education of Dallas, Texas, which, when implemented, will focus on changing the behaviors of school employees instead of just spending money on capital improvements.

“Our job is to look at habits and processes and say, ‘If you do it a little bit differently, you’ll save money,’” Blaine Duggan, Energy Education’s regional vice president, told the board.

In exchange for its services, Energy Education will receive $330,120 each year for the first four years of the program, to be paid out of energy savings as certified by a BCS employee, according to the proposal presented by Duggan.

“There is no new funding required,” Duggan said. “We guarantee that the investment in the program will come out of the energy savings.”

Duggan predicted a net savings in energy costs of $250,230 the first year under the plan and savings as great as $1,453,507 by the 10th year of the plan.

The plan requires BCS to hire an “energy education specialist” to work with Energy Education to help educate school employees about energy savings and evaluate the program’s progress by using energy-accounting software supplied by the company.

Duggan estimated a $55,000 to $65,000 salary range for the energy-education specialist, telling the board the salary would be paid from program savings.

Once the program begins, Energy Education will help BCS identify activities to reduce energy consumption in all of its buildings and aid BCS in developing a plan to recoup some of the costs.

The BCS employee, using the required software, will determine the amount of money saved through the program, Duggan said.

With some 1,100 clients nationwide, Energy Education has about 20 clients among North Carolina school systems, Duggan said.

Among those, according to Duggan, schools in Burke County have recorded some $2.03 million in savings over 14 months; schools in Surry County, some $2.94 million in savings over 74 months; and schools in Duplin County, some $1.75 million in savings over 54 months.

BCS Superintendent Don Phipps said those school systems contacted about their participation in the program were generally pleased with the results.

“I really like this,” said board member Mike Isbell.

Board member Terry Williams agreed.

“I can’t put too many holes in it,” he said.

Phipps said a contract with Energy Education will be reviewed before it is signed.