TVA rewards Oxford schools for energy savings

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – TVA officials presented Oxford School District on Wednesday with a check for $126,477 as part of the Energy Right Solutions program. The program pays qualifying homes, schools and businesses for taking actions to save energy.
The check reflects a 10-cents-per-kilowatt-hour rebate to the school district for the energy it has saved from retrofitting its facilities with energy-saving fixtures.
“Most of our savings was in more efficient lighting,” said Brian Harvey, Oxford’s superintendent of education. “We also installed some new HVAC equipment that saved energy.”
TVA makes the one-time payment for pre-approved investments by government, school or business customers that reduce demand for power – especially peak demand – for years to come.
TVA Director Richard Howorth said his own bookstores recently participated in TVA’s energy audit program.
In retail, he said, “Lighting is where you save a bunch of money.”
David Sparks, TVA sales and marketing manager for Mississippi, said TVA benefits by being able to reduce the need for additional power plants.
“Energy efficiency is actually cheaper for us to invest in than new generating capacity,” he said.
Conservation measures that lower peak demand are especially valuable.
“When you need to buy extra power on that August afternoon, it’s 10, 20, 100 times more expensive than it is today,” said TVA Mississippi Program Manager Rick Foster. “It’s much cheaper to put the incentives to get people to make improvements than to go out and buy the energy then.”
Sparks said Energy Right rebates pay for themselves many times over.
“The true story here is not the $126,000 check,” he said. “It’s the $105,000 annual savings in energy costs.”
Oxford schools began their focus on energy efficiency in 2009 with the Green Schools Initiative, whose energy-saving measures are largely behavioral rather than technological.
Oxford Electric Department Superintendent Rob Neely said, “We have the most highly educated students regarding energy efficiency in the state – maybe the region.”
errol.castens@journalinc.com