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Schools Roundup: SolarWorld; Washington Grants $14 Mill.; Seesmart LEDs; Ameresco Performance Contracts; Community Energy

December 14, 2012 By Linda Hardesty

Faith Lutheran Middle School & High School (pictured) is now home to a 1.11 MW solar system at the school’s 39-acre Las Vegas campus.

The system features more than 4,000 solar panels from SolarWorld, which were installed by Bombard Renewable Energy of Las Vegas. Faith Lutheran administrators expect to offset about half of the school’s annual power needs with energy generated by the array and save about $140,000 a year on utility costs. The project was funded through NV Energy solar rebates and the Federal Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit. Bombard Renewable Energy will own, operate and maintain the solar array for five years under a power purchase agreement with Faith Lutheran.

The State of Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction awarded 21 schools $14.9 million for school facility energy efficiency improvements. The award is one of three rounds of grants funded by $40 million in state bonds for K-12 schools in the 2012 supplemental capital budget. The energy grant projects use utility incentives, energy savings, local money and the state grant to make improvements that may otherwise not be affordable.

The school projects will replace HVAC systems, add insulation and new windows and retrofit lighting. The majority of the school districts are using energy services companies to design, construct and guarantee the energy savings. The method of hiring a consultant team to design the project and a separate contractor to construct it is also being used.

LED lighting manufacturer Seesmart Technologies completed a retrofit of Regis High School in the New York metropolitan area, replacing more than 2,500 fluorescent lights throughout the school with high-efficiency Seesmart LED tube lights. The changeover included 967 new or retrofitted fixtures. The benefits to Regis High include energy savings of more than $36,000 and 116,000 kWh per year. The preparatory school also received a $32,000 rebate from Con Edison. Regis already has a 22 KW solar-panel array on its roof.

Ameresco has signed an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) with Oconto Falls School District in northeastern Wisconsin. The $2.7 million ESPC is expected to save the district over $137,000 in energy and avoided operational costs annually through energy efficiency and infrastructure upgrades at eight facilities. Ameresco will help the district reduce its energy use by over 23 percent through the duration of the 20-year contract via upgrades that include lighting controls, water conservation retrofits, buildings envelope enhancements, boiler plant upgrades, and domestic water heater replacement. Ameresco guarantees the energy cost savings for the duration of the contract. A portion of the projected savings will repay the upfront costs.

Ameresco also signed an ESPC with Lorain County Joint Vocational School (JVS) in Oberlin, Ohio. The school will leverage Ohio’s energy conversation legislation (HB 264) to implement energy efficiency measures that are expected to save JVS over $314,000 in energy and operational costs annually for the duration of the 15-year contract. Improvements to facilities on JVS’s 10-acre campus include new interior lighting and controls to improve efficiency of lighting by 35-40 percent; the integration of an energy management system; a completely re-designed heating plant with two new hot water condensing boilers that is expected to result in up to a 35 percent energy efficiency improvement; new LED lighting; a solar thermal hot water system; and a solar photovoltaic demonstration unit with a green kiosk for student educational purposes.

In Lancaster, Penn., Juniata College has committed to purchase 50 MWh of energy from Keystone Solar annually for the next seven years. Community Energy will supply the clean energy generation from the Keystone Solar Project, which is a 5 MW ground-mounted solar installation that will produce approximately 8,000 MWh of electricity annually. Community Energy is the developer of the Keystone Solar Project and is working in partnership with Exelon Generation, the wholesale off-taker on the project. As part of the sponsorship commitment, Juniata College will have access to “Building Keystone Solar” an online course designed to teach students about the process of a real-world solar project development.


2 comments on “Schools Roundup: SolarWorld; Washington Grants $14 Mill.; Seesmart LEDs; Ameresco Performance Contracts; Community Energy

  1. It seems that only advantages can be noted on the these works of LED lighting manufacturer Seesmart Technologies.

    They have completed a retrofit of Regis High School, replacing more than 2,500 fluorescent lights throughout school.

  2. A question regarding Regis H.S. in Manhattan. How will the school save $36,000 and 116,000 kWh a year? If they are paying $36,000 a year for 116,000 kWh, that is an average of $.31 kWh. Would they qualify for a commercial rate from ConEd that is that high, or is there something else to the calculation that was not mentioned?

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