Thursday, February 22, 2024

County Saves Millions In School Energy Upgrades

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Jonathan Gasser, left, and Presley Dean, engineers with CMTA Energy Solultions, address Ohio County Board of Education members.

WHEELING – Energy savings improvements implemented as part of overall upgrades on Ohio County Schools properties have saved the district more than $2.3 million over the last three years – nearly $1 million above what was expected during that time, according to engineers from CMTA Energy Solutions.

Jonathan Gasser and Presley Dean, engineers with CMTA, recently provided an update to Ohio County Board of Education members on the success of energy savings promised by the company as part of its contract with Ohio County Schools.

They provided numbers showing the total amount of energy savings in the school district over the past three years at $2,320,095.

CMTA had guaranteed Ohio County Schools a savings of $1,347,534 over the first three years of the contract, and this sets the savings beyond expectations at $972,561 to date. CMTA had guaranteed Ohio County Schools a savings on its utility costs of $7 million over the next 15 years, or over the term of the 15-year school improvement bond passed by voters in 2018.

The initial funding for the project included $42.2 million to be generated by the bond, $27 million to come from the West Virginia School Building Authority, and $7 million in projected energy savings. This provided for a budget of $76 million for property improvements across the school district.

photo by: Photo by Joselyn King

Jonathan Gasser, engineer with CMTA Energy Solultions, addresses Ohio County Board of Education members.

But since that time COVID-related relief plan dollars have been added to the budget, providing for additional expenditures. Total money available to spend is now closer to $100 million, according to school officials.

The success of the energy savings contract with CMTA Energy Solutions has been successful in freeing up dollars not just to pay for HVAC improvements, but also to help the school district’s construction budget stretch further, CMTA engineers told school board members recently.

“We were able to take work that was slated for the bond issue anyway – lighting, HVAC upgrades, building automation and control upgrades – and we were able to peel those off and do it as an energy savings contract,” Gasser explained.

“Those upgrades actually fund themselves while producing energy savings.”

Prior to work to upgrade energy systems, Ohio County Schools was paying about $1.4 million annually in utility costs – including gas, electric and water, explained CMTA engineer Presley Dean.

“We had aging infrastructure,” he told school board members. “We had problems with old pipes and pumps.”

Replacing the aging systems has permitted the school district to save on its utility costs and reinvest that money into construction, Presley continued.

Geothermal coil heating systems were installed at Middle Creek and Elm Grove elementary schools, which had the land space to accommodate the coil, he explained. The energy savings at Middle Creek since the installation has been 74%; and at Elm Grove, 59%, according to Dean.

“Those two schools are facilities you should be proud of,” he continued. “They show just how important this project is and how much cooperation there has been between the two of us.

“You have two of the top performing schools in West Virginia — and really across the nation, for that matter,” Dean added.

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