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School Board Approves $8.4 Million Energy Saving Project

The school district is preparing to embark on an $8.4 million project predicted to save about 30 percent of the district’s energy costs.

An “Energy Savings Improvement Program” was approved by the board at its Sept. 26 meeting.

Through the program, the district is predicted to see cuts in energy as well as service and parts, Josh Costell, of Tozour Energy Services, the board’s consultant, told the board at its Sept. 19 workshop session.

“This is a legacy project for the district that will be for generations to come,” he said.

The project – estimated by Costell to cost $8,382,648 – will touch every school in the district, he said.

“There are more than 100 projects” including “lighting, new boilers, ventilators and air conditioning,” he said. “Everything will be state-of-the-art.”

Energy saving progress can be monitored by a Web-based system, Costell said.

“There’s a Web-based dashboard where you can see in real-time what each one of the schools is saving, compared to what the goal is,” he said.

Costell said that financial incentives available to the district through the state Board of Public Utilities’ “Pay for Performance” program and energy savings will more than pay for the cost of the school upgrades.

He said the district could receive $1,747,694 in incentives.

The program, he said, “allows for funding facility improvements via construction projects focused on energy savings.”

“This is a chance to upgrade all schools on a system level,” he said.

The project must be approved by the BPU, he said, and the board must hire an independent auditor to certify the projected energy savings have been met.

“The audit must show self-funding in 15 years,” he said.

In an additional action at the Sept. 26 meeting, the board approved a $6,900 contract with DLB Associates of Eatontown to be the independent energy auditor.

Costell said that because “no debt will be incurred,” the project does not need to be put up in a referendum.

After all necessary approvals are won, he said, the project will go into the design phase, then will be bid out.

Energy savings would be verified at the end of 12 months of operation, he said.

The board voted unanimously to approve the plan, although member Thomas Lewis told Costell at the earlier meeting that he would email him his questions.

Lewis said he was concerned that the savings “would not be there.”

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