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Ohio County Schools Sees Energy Bills Shrink

Photo by Joselyn King Ohio County Board of Education Christine Carder collects her thoughts before Monday’s board meeting.

WHEELING — Energy-related construction projects dropped Ohio County Schools’ overall spending on utility bills by $665,348 in 2020, board of education members learned Monday night.

Jon Gasser, partner with CMTA Energy Solutions of Prospect, Kentucky, addressed the board and detailed the success of its projects after their first full year of installation.

Ohio County Schools is presently engaged in a $76 million plan to improve school facilities, most of which was financed by a $42.2 million bond levy approved by voters in 2018.

While the West Virginia School Building Authority contributed another $29 million to the project, an energy savings construction plan crafted by CMTA was expected to result in at least $6.5 million in utility cost savings over the next 15 years. This “guaranteed savings contract” was figured into the budget of the county-wide construction project.

Work at 11 school buildings took place, as well as at the central office and the school district’s operation center.

New heating and ventilation systems and lighting were installed, and dated boilers and air handlers were replaced, Gasser said.

He reported that year one saw total energy cost savings of $665,348 versus the baseline cost of the three previous years. Included in the savings were reductions in electric consumption costs of $264,825; electric demand, $148,463; operational and maintenance $130,874; electric rates, $46,516; water/sewer rates, $45,214; and natural gas costs, $29,456.

Middle Creek Elementary School received a geothermal heating and cooling system as part of energy improvement work there. The school was listed as having an 80% energy savings during 2020, and now has an Energy Star rating of 99, according to Gasser.

But Elm Grove Elementary School scored even better, having an Energy Star score of 100 following upgrades there, he said. The school’s energy consumption fell by 70%..

“And these are not new schools,” Gasser said. “They are competing with schools that have been around a lot less time.”

Energy Star designations are bestowed upon facilities scoring above 75 in their efficiency. Other buildings in Ohio County Schools deemed Energy Star facilities are Woodsdale, Madison and Steenrod elementary schools, Wheeling Middle School, Wheeling Park High School and the central office.

There will be efforts in the coming months to make the remaining buildings Energy Star facilities, Gasser said.

Board President David Croft asked if it were possible energy consumption in the school buildings may have been less during the past year as students stayed home during the COVID pandemic. Gasser said consumption level was likely typical, as the school buildings still were heated and cooled when teachers and staff still had to report to work.

The board will next meet at 6 p.m. on July 12 at the board office, 2203 National Road, Elm Grove.

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