TCS to save money

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, April 21, 2015

An energy efficiency company wants to help the Troy City Schools save more $2 million over the next 20 years.

A representative of Schneider Electric met with members of the Board of Education during an extended work session on Monday to outline an overview of the company’s program, which calls for identifying opportunities to save costs through increased energy efficiency and using that ash flow to fund needed infrastructure improvements, such as improved HAVAC systems at the schools.

“This is something that has not cost the school system anything at this point,” said Dr. Lee Hicks, superintendent. “We started meeting with representatives of Schneider Electric in October and November, to look at our system and determine what savings might be there … and now we’re at the point of wanting to bring the board into the discussions before we go any further.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Hicks said the company has worked with several other school districts in Alabama, including others in the Wiregrass, to identify opportunities to reduce expenses and create revenue streams that can be redirected into capital improvements.

Madalena Pierangelino, account executive, shared an overview of the program with the board, explaining that initial assessments indicate the district could see a 14 to 18 percent reduction in its $500,000 annual utility costs. “That’s $70,0000 to $90,000 a year,” she said. Over the course of 20 years, the program could have a $1.8 million to $2.4 million impact on the district’s bottom line.

“And that is what we are willing to guarantee,” Pierangelino said. “With our company, we guarantee your savings and provide the monitoring and tracking. If you fall short of the expected savings, we will write you a check for the difference.”

Pierangelino said her company is a full-service firm, able to identify and design systems to improve efficiency; identify and help secure sources of financing for capital improvement projects; contract and oversee any construction or equipment installation needed; provide monitoring and tracking; and provide training on the systems and controls.

Board member Mark Salmon said the decision for board members ultimately will come down to two factors: first, whether the system has the ability to identify and implement the savings itself and second, whether the expense of hiring an outside firm – an expense that has not been identified – will be justified in the 20-year net savings, after any additional capital improvement costs are calculated.

“The decision at the end of the day for whatever agreement you propose is ‘do we feel like the cost of your fee is going to be offset by the savings over the 20 years?’” Salmon said.

Board members took no action on the proposal.

Members also briefly discussed the board policy manual, which has been revised and distributed to members.

“We want to get the policy reviewed and updated, then put online for everyone in the public to have access to,” Hicks said. “Once we review and approve the policy, we’re going to share it with AEA and the public and give them input before finalizing the policy. We hope to have it finalized by August.”

Wally Lowery, board president, said he preferred to have a legal counsel present for discussions about board policy, so members asked to schedule another work session.