School News

Energy project saves schools $1 million in utility costs over five years

by Kate Evans

Morgan County Schools is still counting their savings from a countywide guaranteed energy management project with CMTA Energy Solutions.

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

At the February 20 school board meeting, CMTA project manager and engineer Tom Nicolas reviewed the energy management work that was done throughout Morgan County Schools facilities in his annual measurement and verification services review.

His presentation included the year-five savings results, along with the total cost savings for the school system over the past five years which was more than $1 million.

Cost savings

Nicolas said in his presentation that the project was structured as 15-year budget neutral Guaranteed Energy Savings Contract  (GESC), which uses guaranteed savings from the operations and maintenance (utilities) budget as capital to make needed environmental upgrades and modernizations, which are financed over time.

The school system’s fifth  year of the CMTA project (July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023) had combined utilities savings of $296,121 from the reduction in electric usage, electric demand, fuel oil usage and water and sewer from the energy management project.

Morgan County Schools also saved $177,586 in operations and maintenance and also an equipment service agreement for a total cost savings of $473,707.

Nicolas said that in Year 5, some 2,204,386 kilowatt hours were saved in energy usage at county school facilities.

That was a 34% reduction of cumulative energy usage versus a guaranteed 23% reduction with a $138,930 cost savings, he noted.

Total utility cost reductions to date for the first five years of the project have been $1,055,170, Nicolas said.

The school system has also saved a total of 10,193,158 kilowatt hours of electric usage in the first five years.

Project scope

The scope of the CMTA energy management project upgrades and renovations included full Warm Springs Middle School heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) renovations, significant Widmyer Elementary HVAC renovations, new Warm Springs Intermediate School HVAC systems for their gym, school board office HVAC renovation and a new Berkeley Springs High School air handler unit.

Other work included LED lighting renovations to school gymnasiums and classrooms throughout the county, water systems upgrades, Warm Springs Middle School fire alarm upgrades,  a new high volume ceiling fan for the middle school gym, new building digital control systems and other improvements such as door seals and vending machine controls.

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.  The majority of the savings were going to pay off the lease purchase agreement.

Great results

Nicolas said that the results have been phenomenal and that energy use has decreased in nearly every school facility with some schools and buildings showing substantial reductions.  Full renovations sites — Warm Springs Middle School, Widmyer Elementary and the school board office — had a 50% reduction in electric usage.  He said that he’s very proud of the project.

The project also had environmental benefits from reducing CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions.  The lighting in classrooms and school gymnasiums had also significantly improved.

School board president Aaron Close said it was a worthwhile project and well-done with wise taxpayer money savings.

At the meeting, the school board voted to discontinue the CMTA annual measurement and verification services.  Close said that they’d done it every year for five years.  Nicolas had said if there were any red flags that they would have seen them in the first five years of the project.

Close noted that it cost the board around $5,000 a year to track the project with the measurement and verification services.

In other business, the board also approved Beth Golden and Robert Dugan traveling to Nashville, Tennessee for the IReady Innovation and Leadership Symposium from March 6-8.

At their February 6 meeting, the school board approved hiring Minghini’s General Contractors, Inc. for the flooring replacements for Morgan County Schools pending all post-bid paperwork is completed per the specifications. The project came in under bid.

The board also approved Williamson Shriver Architects, Inc. as the architect for the School Building Authority Berkeley Springs High School HVAC project.  The firm was the only bidder for the contract.