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C-A to reduce energy usage for big savings

May 14, 2019 08:06 am

COXSACKIE — Residents will have the opportunity to vote on a proposed energy performance project for the Coxsackie-Athens Central School District next week.

The proposed project involves updating several aspects of the district’s infrastructure and an anticipated energy savings of 35%. Coxsackie-Athens will have a net balance of $1.6 million following its 18-year contract with Ecosystem Energy Services, according to the district’s website. An additional $317,000 could be granted if the project receives voters’ approval.

“State aid covers 61% of these projects,” Coxsackie-Athens District Superintendent Randall Squier said. “We’re asking voters for their support so we can receive an additional 10%.”

By doing an energy-performance project instead of a traditional capital project, the district will still be left with money in the bank, Squier said.

“There is a net benefit to doing this project,” he said. “Typically after a capital project, your balance would be zero.”

The remaining funds will go toward programming and classroom materials, Squier said.

“Every dollar we spend on electricity and heating is one less dollar we can invest towards teaching and learning,” according to a statement from the district.

The upgrades include steam-to-hot-water conversion, a condensing boiler plant, upgrades to the lighting, ventilation, electrical system, building insulation, computer network and control system at the middle and high school campus.

Both elementary schools will receive improvements to lighting, building insulation, the computer network and control system.

“The energy savings are wonderful and we’re going to take them,” Squier said. “But one of our main goals is to make classrooms more comfortable and a better learning environment for students.”

Students can use the project as a learning experience, Squier said.

“We will implement the changes into the classrooms and students will be able to go online to monitor our savings,” he said.

Ecosystems staff will be available to train maintenance employees at the district on how to use the new technology, Squier added.

“The district will be able to model being more green to our students, who will be our environmental stewards for the majority of this century,” according to the district’s website.

Coxsackie Town Supervisor Richard Hanse and Village Mayor Mark Evans felt the project was a good idea, they said.

“I’m sure the school uses a great deal of energy,” Hanse said, adding that he supports the village’s recent solar project.

Construction of the project is expected to wrap up in the next couple of months, Evans said.

“It’s a good project,” Evans said. “The village will be able to buy electricity at a much reduced rate. We’re expecting a savings of $20,000 a year.”

The cost of the improvements is $2,700,000. Because of the state funding, there is no projected increase to property taxes.

If the energy savings are not met, the district is protected by a contractual agreement.

“We are guaranteed to save $148,000 every year in energy costs,” Squier said. “If we do not reach that, Ecosystems has to write us a check.”

In addition to the savings, the district is expected to receive $50,000 in rebates from sources such as the state Energy Research & Development Authority and $2,572,000 from the state Department of Education toward building costs if approved by voters ($2,254,000 if not approved). The district is hopeful that construction can begin in March 2020.

CS Arch, of Albany, has been hired as the engineer for the project.