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Monday, April 25, 2016

School Board Pleased with Energy, Cost Savings Plan

By James Lomuscio

Doing right by the environment while saving energy costs over the long run was the thrust of an Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) Committee report to the Board of Education tonight—and the board seemed pleased.

The report presented by First Selectman Jim Marpe and EPC Committee member Iain Bruce showed an $8.35 million total cost for the Westport’s eight schools and and four municipal buildings, with energy cost savings estimated at $8.7 million over 10 years.

The total projected costs for the schools, which comprise the lion’s share of the project, would be $7.57 million with $716,689 in energy savings the first year.

The investment grade audit report was prepared by the outside consultant NORESCO, the firm that the year-old EPC Committee hired after a competitive bid.

While tonight’s presentation was only a first reading, and there was no official board action, the proposal seemed to get high grades from board members.

Board member Mark Mathias called the goal of energy savings “the right thing to do.”

“And it’s also nice to do the right thing to do because it makes financial sense,” he said.

Michael Gordon, school board chairman, also showed his approval for the proposed joint effort between the schools and the town.

“To me the potential is very exciting for the district and the town,” said Gordon.

Marpe said he looked forward to coming back to the Board of Education, so they could vote on the proposal.

“We believe this is an important opportunity, and we appreciate the feedback because it has the ability to save our taxpayers collectively over time,” Marpe said. “What I sense here is support, and I look forward to coming back.”

Gordon said the board could consider voting on it at its next meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, May 11.

According to the report, NORESCO and the EPC Committee settled on 13 high value energy conservation measures (ECM) for the town’s 12 buildings, which in addition to the eight schools, include Town Hall, the Center for Senior Activities, the Police Department and Fire Headquarters.

Among the ECMs are: lightings improvements, weatherization system upgrades, pipe insulation, high efficiency transformers, water heater replacement, an automated swimming pool cover and “energy conservation through behavior change,” according to the report. Annual projected energy savings would net a 28 percent savings in electric use, 17 percent in gas and .4 percent, an equivalent of 266 gallons, in oil.

Emissions would also be down, with carbon dioxide reduced 22.5 percent, sulfur dioxide 10.9 percent and nitrogen oxide 20.1 percent. According to the report, citing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data, the reductions are equivalent to boosting the environment by planting 2,964 trees in town or removing 761 cars from its roadways.

“Obviously, the schools are crucial to the success of the project,” Bruce said, adding that the proposal represented “good policy and good economics.”

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Posted 04/25/16 at 09:35 PM  Permalink



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