School District Approves Energy Efficient Contract

Ameresco, Inc., an energy efficiency and renewable energy company, will provide the New Paltz School District (NPSD) with “energy efficiency upgrades to the district’s four school buildings.” This could save the district about $258,461 annually, according to a press release from Beverly Sickler, secretary to the superintendent.

The press release said the project will cost $4 million and will require no upfront capital from the school district or the taxpayers. The money for installation will come partly from the New York State Education Department (SED) and “annual payments for 10 to 15 years from the district,” according to Superintendent of Schools Maria Rice. However, she said those specific details have yet to be finalized.

The Ameresco and NPSD energy savings performance contract (ESPC) is not a means to reduce the budget deficit. Rice said it has been researched and planned out for a few years.

“The decision to pursue an energy performance contract was decided well before the budget development process,” said Rice. “An energy audit was done a couple of years ago followed by an in-depth analysis and proposals. Following significant in-depth discussion with the Board’s Facilities Committee a proposal was presented to the full Board of Education and approved.”

Ameresco completed an energy performance audit for the school district for energy consumption in order to better understand the facilities’ baseline energy and other utility consumption. Upgrades for the school district would include lighting system improvements, solar hot water heaters, boiler re-piping and kitchen upgrades including a new walk-in freezer.

“Working with [NPSD] to make these critical energy efficiency improvements will help reduce energy use, lower their utility expenditures and reduce their carbon footprint,” said Executive Vice President of Ameresco David J. Anderson. “An ESPC, such as this one, is a budget-neutral way to reduce energy use and associated costs while significantly upgrading facility infrastructure.”

Meanwhile, ideas to temporarily close New Paltz Middle School and Duzine Elementary were considered and included in a presentation Rice gave to the Board of Education on Jan. 26, 2011. For these energy efficiency options to be installed in both buildings suggests that they won’t be closed after all.

“The Board of Education has made a decision not to pursue closing any schools at this time,” Rice said.

In regards to other improvements to energy performance, the NPSD has a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) grant and is also “pursuing a project to receive solar panels.” However, Rice said this has been temporarily stalled due to problems with funding.

Ameresco has also recently partnered with Shenandoah County Public Schools in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Monroe County School District in Mississippi and buildings in the city of Portland, Maine.