Wednesday night, Superintendent Jerome Belair announced his plans to team with a Berlin energy company to save $800,000 over the next 25 years by using solar energy and LED lighting.
DBS Energy Inc, a Berlin company, has done an energy audit of Waterford’s schools and plans on putting solar panels on the roof of Quaker Hill Elementary School and to change the outdoor lighting at all five Waterford schools to LED lights. Those moves would save the town $800,000 in energy costs over the next 25 years, according to a presentation by the owners of DBS Energy Inc.
“We continue to explore ways to save money on the operational side (of the school budget) so we can keep the educational programs,” Belair said. “This is a great opportunity to do that.”
All of the upgrades to the schools would be paid for by grants from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, and cost Waterford taxpayers nothing. The plan put forward Wednesday night is just a beginning, as there is the potential for more energy-saving initiatives by DBS.
“There is more potential here,” Belair said. “But we need to start somewhere.”
The amount of energy produced by the solar panels could be linked to Waterford School District’s website, for the community to see, according to Eric Bartone of DBS Energy. The panels could also be incorporated into the science curriculum, Belair said.
How It Works
The state mandates that a certain percentage of energy in the state is produced by renewable energy sources, like wind and solar. It also mandates certain energy-efficient programs to cut down on the state’s energy use.
To achieve that, an extra fee is put on Connecticut electricity bills to pay for the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund. The Clean Energy Fund finds projects to fund that will either make buildings more energy-efficient or find ways to produce non-renewable energy.
The initiatives by DBS are all funded by Clean Energy Fund grants, as DBS works with local municipalities to make their buildings more energy efficient. For the Waterford program, the solar panels at Quaker Hill Elementary School and the changing of the outdoor lights to LED lights will be paid for by those grants.
What the Clean Energy Fund will pay for is constantly changing, so there are always new grants popping up, Bartone said. What made the most sense, with the available grants, was to do the solar panels at Quaker Hill and the LED outdoor lighting, but there could be more opportunities as different grants become available in the future, Bartone said.
Bartone said DBS has worked with dozens of municipalities, and there is never any cost to them for these programs. Additionally, the Clean Energy Fund mandates that DBS is responsible for all maintenance of all equipment and covers the cost of replacement in case it is damaged.
“We are protected in everyway,” said Phil Russell, who is Waterford’s interim school business manager.
Waterford has not gotten the grants yet, but Belair said he feels “very confident” Waterford will be able to get them. The hope is to have this LED lighting and solar panels installed by the start of the 2013-14 school year, and begin the energy savings, he said.Year Approximate Electricity Savings Year 1 $13,600 ...Year 11 $39,000 ...Year 21 $49,000 ...Year 25 $52,000
*There are savings every year, we just picked years with large jumps to show the trend over time.