Alcorn schools look at ways to save on utilities

By Lena Mitchel/NEMS Daily Journal

CORINTH – The Alcorn County School District is mulling a plan that could reduce its annual utility bill by as much as 25 percent.
Based on annual expenditures of about $780,000 for electricity, natural gas and propane, the district could save $156,000 to $195,000 per year over 10-15 years, according to Johnson Controls, a company that specializes in building efficiency and power solutions.
Like other school districts around the state, Alcorn County’s state funding has been cut three times since January 2009, and state officials say further reductions are possible before the fiscal year ends June 30.
Based on a preliminary audit of 11 schools, Johnson Controls presented a list of possible improvement opportunities to the school board last week.
If the county decides to implement an energy conservation plan, it would publicly advertise for bids and Johnson Controls would competing for the business, said Johnson Controls consultant Casey Murrah.
Murrah said the district could be eligible for long-term, low-cost financing for the energy improvements.
The district might also qualify for Tennessee Valley Authority grants, a Mississippi Development Authority state energy program and utility rebates to reduce its costs.
If the school district were to select Johnson Controls to conduct its energy program, it could negotiate a performance contract in which the company would guarantee the cost to implement the energy improvements and also guarantee the amount of annual savings.
Those savings would, in turn, pay the cost of financing to make the improvements.
The guarantee means that Johnson Controls would write the school district a check to make up the difference if it did not achieve the projected savings.
School districts and others that have performance contracts with Johnson Controls include the Aberdeen School District, Oktibbeha County Schools, Starkville Public Schools, Columbus Air Force Base and Magnolia Regional Health Center.
The TVA and development authority funding applications must be filed by April and June deadlines, so the school board agreed to immediately advertise for proposals from energy service companies.

Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com