Steamboat Springs School District weighs plan to improve energy efficiency of its campuses

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Annual energy costs by building

Steamboat Springs High School: $261,449

Steamboat Springs Middle School: $136,903

Strawberry Park Elementary School: $86,584

Soda Creek Elementary School: $81,455

Human Resources Center: $76,370

Bus barn: $13,833

Total: $656,595

Superintendent review

The Steamboat Springs School Board on Monday night concluded its meeting by conducting Superintendent Brad Meeks' year-end performance review in executive session. Board President Brian Kelly said after the review the board is "very much leaning" toward offering Meeks a contract extension.

Meeks, who in 2011 came to Steamboat from Farmington Area Public Schools in Minnesota, is finishing his second year with the district.

— The Steamboat Springs School District is looking into making some significant capital upgrades to its school buildings that could save millions of dollars in utility costs over the next 15 years.

An energy services company told the district Monday night that by using a system called energy performance contracting, it could pay for capital projects that improve the energy efficiency of its buildings with the savings the projects generate.

Superintendent Brad Meeks recommended that the board approve spending about $8,000 to have Navitas, a Kansas-based company that specializes in energy performance contracting, better study the potential upgrades and come back with a plan to consider.

The company already has spent some time analyzing the district's four campuses and its central office along with three years’ worth of utility data.

“I think the potential payoff is great and obviously it helps us save energy and provide some capital infusion,” Meeks said.

The board voted unanimously to allow Navitas' study of its buildings and the potential efficiency upgrades to continue.

Koby Kampschroeder, a representative with Navitas, told the board his initial study of the district projects it could generate nearly $4 million in energy savings in 15 years by investing $3 million in capital projects that would range from replacing old boilers and windows to installing motion light sensors in some school buildings.

He said the projection anticipates a 3 percent annual increase in utility costs for the district.

The company would guarantee an amount of energy savings but not a drop in the cost of utilities that are dependent on the rates.

His review of the schools found multiple opportunities for cost savings at each campus.

Finance Director Dale Mellor said there may be no better time, economically speaking, to embark on the projects.

He added the district has been approached by Wells Fargo Bank to participate in a lease purchase program that could be used to fund the improvements.

Mellor and School Board members advocated against funding any of the projects with a bond referendum.

“I don't think the economic times get any better to do a project like this because of the low interest (rates) and a lot of people are looking for work,” Mellor said. “I think we could get a competitive bid.”

The district currently spends more than $600,000 annually in utility costs, and ot puts on a contest each year to see which building can save the most energy.

Soda Creek this year won the challenge when it reduced its energy usage by more than 14 percent and saved nearly $1,400 compared with 2012.

Budget approved

Near the end of the Monday meeting, the School Board voted, 4-1, to approve the district's 2013-14 budget.

The only disagreement about the budget proposal came when board member Rebecca Williams questioned why the district was eliminating one half of a counseling position at Steamboat Springs High School.

Williams voted against the approved budget.

Her concern was shared by a district counselor who asked the board to spare the department from the cut.

Meeks said the district feels “there still will be adequate counseling support at the high school with this minor reduction.”

The approved budget does not include any major program cuts, and includes more state revenue for the first time in five years, according to district officials.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

This is the exact sort of consulting that can be done locally and there is absolutely no reason for a "buy local" community to so quickly spend money on out of state consultants.

The calculations of how much money is saved over time by buying a more efficient boiler is a simple algebra calculation. It becomes an exercise in using spreadsheets if you add in possible projected changes in energy costs over time.

CMC has classes which this is very close to course subject material.

So do we use local consultants? No. Do we local students to make this a learning experience related to careers in the field? No.

What do we do? We give the work to out of state consultants. Woohoo, nice way to tell recent grads to go elsewhere for work related to your education.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

And Energy Performance Contracting is a crock that any organization with someone with a brain would see through. EPC tempts the shortsighted with the promise of not spending money to make improvements. But EPC traps the shortsighted by denying them the benefits of making the improvements for many years while the EPC consultants take the cost savings.

Any organization with a staff competent at operating and maintaining their equipment can quickly determine the energy savings of buying more efficient equipment.

Any organization that includes someone with a working brain would want the benefits of capturing the cost savings of buying more efficient equipment. That if the organization budgeted itself as if their was no cost savings then quickly there would be additional money to spend on other energy saving projects.

So all that is needed to internally do EPC is a little competence on performing internal energy usage analysis or hiring local expertise, a little upfront money to pay for the projects with the highest rate of return, budget discipline to retain energy savings for spending on additional effective energy saving projects, and tracking energy usage.

Oh well, what is $8,000 to a school district like SB? Would $8,000 have made any difference to student athletes or any other program? And so why the public so quickly is so disgusted by government which can spend months working on such detailed budgets and then, on a whim, come up with available money for someone's pet boondoggle.

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mark hartless 1 year, 4 months ago

Well Scott, I guess it's all relative.

Compared to the IRS spending $1,500/ night/room for its employees to go to "conferences" and learn to dance, the $8,000 seems like quite a bargain.

And why would you have a problem hiring out-of-state?

Isn't it good to "spread the wealth" around a bit???

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

Energy efficiency consulting expertise is available locally. Only thing that Navitas brings to the table is a marketing slogan called "Energy Performance Consulting"

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