Energy project saved county schools $1 million in four years, says engineer

by Kate Evans

After four years of operating under an energy management program, Morgan County Schools has reduced their costs by $1 million and saved 7.9 million kilowatt hours of energy.

Project manager and engineer Tom Nicolas of CMTA Energy Solutions gave school board members an overview recently of the energy management work done throughout Morgan County Schools facilities and the total cost savings for the school system since 2018.

The project originated under former School Superintendent David Banks and was implemented from  June of 2017 through October of 2018.

Nicolas said that the school system’s fourth  year (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022) combined utilities savings was $294,847 from the reduction in electric consumption, electric demand, fuel oil and water and sewer from the energy management project.

Morgan County Schools also saved $173,254 in operation and maintenance and an equipment service agreement for a total cost savings of $468,101.

Nicolas said that in Year 4, some 2,046,685 kilowatt hours were saved in energy usage at county school facilities.  That was a 34% reduction of cumulative energy usage with a $138,930 cost savings, he noted. The company had guaranteed the schools would see at least a 23% reduction of usage.

Total utility cost reductions to date for the first four years have been $1,055,170, Nicolas said.  The school system has also saved 7,988,772 kilowatt hours in electric consumption.

The CMTA energy management project included LED lighting renovations to school gymnasiums and classrooms throughout the county, water systems upgrades, Warm Springs Middle School fire alarm upgrades, HVAC upgrades and renovations at several schools and the school board office, a new ceiling fan for the middle school gymnasium, new building control systems, and a new Berkeley Springs High School air handler unit.

Many middle school and several intermediate school HVAC rooftop units were installed in the fall of 2018 as part of the CMTA energy management project.  They replaced equipment damaged in severe weather.

CMTA also donated and installed LED solar-powered security lights for the Widmyer Elementary playground and donated lights to the high school Building C & D renovations.

A $3.5 million 15-year equipment lease purchase agreement is paying for the upfront costs for the CMTA guaranteed energy savings project. The energy savings from the building upgrades will pay for the renovations. CMTA guarantees the energy savings over the 15-year lease purchase agreement term.

Nicolas said that the results had been phenomenal and that energy use has decreased in almost every school facility with some schools and buildings showing substantial reductions.

Full renovations facilities –Warm Springs Middle School, Widmyer Elementary and the school board office — had a 47% reduction in electric usage.

The project also had environmental benefits from reducing CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions.

Board members said the lighting in classrooms and the school gymnasiums was greatly improved and they appreciate the environmental benefits.