The Owensboro Public Schools Board of Education is considering for approval at its Thursday meeting a contract with an engineering firm that specializes in energy savings for organizations, as well as the paperwork to begin the project, which will cost the district more than $13 million.

The engineering corporation, CMTA Inc, will help the district create energy savings. Not only that, they are guaranteeing the savings or they will pay the bond payments, according to OPS Chief Financial Officer John David Sandefur.

The total upfront cost of the project is $13,415,000, and district officials are touting the expense is about making its facilities more energy efficient over time.

CMTA guarantees the district will recoup at least $11,693,000 over the next two decades, Sandefur said, which is the life of the bond that will be issued. CMTA also estimates that the district will see a savings of $1.1 million just in maintenance costs alone.

The numbers are conservative, Sandefur said, and that there likely will be savings in the long run.

He said the district has aging equipment, such as HVAC and lighting, that needs to be replaced regardless, and with this project, the district will be able to use the energy savings to help pay for some of those items.

“These are products that we have to replace anyway ... the company is helping us find the best products that will get us the best energy use and the best savings,” he said.

OPS has been looking at an energy-savings project for several years since Owensboro Municipal Utilities informed district officials in 2015 that rates would increase.

“Basically they gave us a 10-year period of bringing our (utility) rates up to market, in essence, because we were getting a discounted rate,” Sandefur said. “We paid a highly-discounted rate for our energy.”

As an example of the change in rate, Sandefur said the OPS budget for next year accounts for an 11.5% increase in utility rates, and similar increases will continue through the phase-in.

By the end of this 10-year phase-in, the district is looking at a $1 million increase in utility costs.

Chris Bozarth, OPS director of maintenance, said through this plan, the district will be changing all light fixtures to LED, replacing aged HVAC equipment, and is looking at doing some solar on at least seven buildings, among other changes.

These energy savings are beneficial for two reasons, he said.

“It’s kind of hard to swallow the increases we are looking at on the power,” he said. “But it’s also good as far as us being more fiscally responsible than we already are. We are trying to make all the savings we can. Using the dollars wisely.”

With these savings, money will go directly back into the district instead of being paid out for energy costs, he said.

“We are going to put the money into our buildings and that will directly impact the educational process, and make our spaces more conducive to the educational process,” Bozarth said.

The board will vote on the contract and the beginning paperwork required by the state to move forward with the energy savings project at the 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23 meeting, which will take place in the district central office at 450 Griffith Ave.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

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