The Owensboro Board of Education finalized a new contract with an energy engineering firm during its first board meeting of the year Thursday.
The original cost of the project with CMTA Energy Solutions was $9 million, which the board approved in April 2019.
“Since then, we have decided to add the solar aspect and other” heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades,” Owensboro Public Schools Public Information Officer Jared Revlett said. “The new cost of this energy project will be (over) $13 million… and tonight, the board approved that contract and the contractor.”
OPS has been mulling for several years on an energy-savings plan that would also improve infrastructure and electrical systems in most of the district’s schools after Owensboro Municipal Utilities informed officials in 2015 of a rate hike.
“OMU rates were going up,” said Chris Bozarth, OPS director of maintenance and facilities. “Because they were going up, we had two options; either we could just pay the higher rates or B we could invest the money that we were going to spend for the higher rates into energy savings measures, into our buildings, into our students. So we opted for that process.”
The school district sought energy efficiency and innovation to be “ahead of the game” while also trying to implement cost-savings measures, Revlett said.
“A lot of our facilities are in need of an upgrade,” he said. “We looked at several different options… and this project allows us to do that.”
CMTA, which specializes in energy savings for businesses, guarantees that required funds will be saved through using their services instead of lost to utility companies, thereby providing a revenue stream to pay for the renovations.
“The idea is by adding the solar and all these other changes. The project will essentially pay for itself over the next 17 years,” Revlett said.
Bozarth said the district will be changing to all new LED lights, HVAC upgrades in all its buildings, some insulation work and looking to solar within this new plan.
He said work will begin closer to the summer and hopefully be mostly complete prior to the start of the 2021 school year.
Also on the agenda, the board tabled a resolution to sue the makers of JUUL Labs, Inc. and other manufacturers, distributors and marketers of electronic cigarettes and vaping products.
BREAKING: The Owensboro Board of Education has tabled a resolution to sue the makers of e-cigarettes. pic.twitter.com/FxYOvFUPKP
— Owensboro Times (@OwensboroTimes) January 23, 2020
The board was initially slated to make a decision during Thursday’s regular meeting. Board Vice-Chair Melissa Decker said the board, however, agreed to hold off on a vote until all members were present.
The Daviess County Public Schools Board of Education had approved this same resolution last Thursday at its regular meeting.