Schools eye energy savings

Staff Writer

HOWELL— In an effort to provide energy and solar solutions for the district, the Howell K-8 School District Board of Education will apply for a grant to conduct an energy audit of all of the district’s buildings.

Business Administrator Ronald Sanasac presented the idea to the board’s finance committee at itsAug. 9 meeting. The members of the committee were in favor of conducting the energy audit.

Subsequent to that meeting, the full board signaled its approval for pursuing the energy audit and learning how solar energy may be able to benefit the school district.

There are a number of programs available for solar projects, administrators said. A program offered by the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and the Energy Savings Improvement Program (ESIP) are two that are of interest to Howell.

“Both of those plans start with an energy audit of the district’s buildings,” Sanasac explained.

The BPU program grant will eliminate the up-front cost of energy audits and encourage energy efficiency upgrades for eligible buildings. The program provides reimbursement for certain upgrades, according to the information that was provided.

After the energy audit has been conducted, the board will be given a choice of programs and projects it may choose to pursue, Sanasac said.

“If it’s managed properly and we pick the right projects, it really is a great idea,” board member John Van Noy said.

The energy savings projects can run the gamut from installing occupancy sensors on light switches to the placement of solar energy generating panels on a school roof.

“It is a wonderful way to be environmentally sensitive while reducing the amount of money the taxpayers have to pay and increasing the leverage the board could use,” Sanasac said. “The nice thing is that [the projects] will pay for themselves.

“One of the nice features of the ESIP is that it allows boards to fund the project over 15 years using energy savings to make the payments with a guaranteed cash flow. Although there is an expense in the budget, there is also a revenue or a reduction in expense that offsets it,” he explained.

Sanasac will proceed with the grant application on behalf of the school district and report back to the board if the grant is received.