Uses State Grants and Utility Incentives as the Path to New Lighting Systems and Energy Savings
Sidney City Schools broke ground last month on a $481,000 project at the district’s facilities including the high school, middle school, and administrative offices to replace and improve existing, end-of-life fluorescent lighting systems with new, efficient LED fixtures. While the project had been in the District’s upcoming permanent improvement plans already, administrators expedited the timeline to take advantage of a number of time-sensitive opportunities including a State of Ohio grant for energy efficiency projects and utility incentives that are due to expire before the end of the year.
The District worked with Plug Smart, an Ohio-based energy services company, to qualify their project and secure $215,000 in grant funds, disbursed from the U.S. Department of Energy via Ohio’s State Energy Program. Plug Smart also oversaw the design and construction of the project, assembling a local team of well-qualified distribution partners and competitive installation contractors to meet the grant program requirements and secure utility incentives without impacting the District’s plans for reopening this school year.
The new equipment is eligible for over $97,000 in utility incentives that were scheduled to expire before the end of the year due to the Ohio House’s passage of House Bill 6 in 2019 and the resultant wind-down of the statutorily required energy efficiency programs. All project materials were provided by Dickman Supply, based in Sidney. The equipment includes a variety of LED technologies: 2,063 existing linear fluorescent fixtures will be completely replaced with new LED panels while 3,063 will be retrofitted with new LED tubes and rewired to minimize ongoing maintenance. In addition, 317 can fixtures will be converted with LED retrofit kits, and another 102 fixtures will get new LED bulbs. With all the new lights carrying a 10-year warranty, these improvements will also eliminate the now-frequent service calls for the existing 15-year old systems, reducing the strain on the District’s maintenance resources.
The energy savings analysis conducted by Plug Smart suggested that Sidney City Schools can reduce its lighting energy costs by nearly 70% by making these improvements, creating up to $89,000 of annual electric power savings and nearly $17,000 of annual operations and maintenance savings, making the project’s return on investment 48.8%. The district was also able to preserve $66,000 of their Permanent Improvement Fund by paying for the improvements located in the cafeterias and dining areas with the Food Services Fund instead.
“These improvements will make a major impact on the quality of our learning environment,” said Bob Humble, Sidney City Schools Superintendent. “And when we saw the power of stacking these incentive programs together and that the timing would work out within this short window, we knew we had to make these improvements now.”
In order to meet the district’s fall reopening timeline and requirements, local electrical contractor C&J Electric has been on-site performing the installation since early August, shortly after the contract was finalized. With all construction deadlines for incentives and grant funds approaching, site crews will work second shifts as necessary after school reopens to ensure program compliance.
“All the improvements will be completed by the end of September,” said Jason McLain, Director of Business Operations. “The biggest success was assembling this team to deliver so much value to the District and our community; our new kindergarteners this year will still be reaping the benefits of this project when they’re in high school.