KSBA continues to support members’ energy-saving efforts
By Bill Scott
KSBA Executive Director
KSBA’s effort to support schools’ energy savings efforts did not come to an end when its $5 million federal stimulus grant funding school energy managers expired last spring. Thanks to the generous support of the Council for Better Education as well as recent actions by utility companies and the state Department of Energy Development and Independence, the association continues to represent the interests of its members in this field.
KSBA, with the help of CBE funding, recently intervened in an effort by Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities to increase their rates for school accounts by 6.9 percent and 6.5 percent respectively. The intervention was successful – LG&E agreed to reduce its rate increase for schools by 33 percent and KU by 30 percent, for an overall annual savings to schools of $700,000.
In addition, LG&E and KU committed to seek approval from the state Public Service Commission of a program to provide $1.45 million over the next two school years to fund the equivalent of up to 24 school energy managers in the regions served by these utility companies. The two utilities serve more than 40 percent of the districts in the state. The arrangement, called a demand-side management program, would be modeled after the original School Energy Managers Project, with the outside funding picking up half their salaries in the first fiscal year, 2013-14, and 25 percent in 2014-15, and districts paying the balance in each of those years. The funds will be prorated on the ratio of LG&E/KU-served schools to total served schools in each district. School systems will be encouraged to pool the services of an energy manager, as they did with the SEMP.
We are hopeful that other utility companies, electric co-ops and municipal utilities will decide to offer similar programs in their regions of the Commonwealth so that all energy managers are fully matched. For example, half of the Lincoln County district’s schools are served by KU and half by Inter-County Rural Electric Cooperative.
The utilities and KSBA have begun developing the new program to fund energy managers and plan to submit it to the PSC for approval by February 2013. If OKed, it would take effect July 1, 2013.
On top of this development, KSBA received a grant from state Department of Energy Development and Independence to fund a part-time position to provide assistance to districts with a variety of energy-related activities. These include coordinating and conducting training for school energy managers; supporting districts in complying with state law that requires them to track their energy use and also with their own energy policy; and working on energy-related activities with utility companies, the state Energy and Environment Cabinet and other stakeholders.
The part-time position will be filled by the former director of SEMP, Ron Willhite. Willhite, working for the Council for Better Education, also was instrumental in presenting KSBA’s position in the LGL&E/KU rate case.
Finally, KSBA has applied for a grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority, which, if approved, would provide three years of funding at a 50 percent match for an up to nine school energy managers in southwestern Kentucky, mainly in districts along the Tennessee border.
The field of energy management is a new one for school districts, though many have made rapid progress over the last few years under the auspices of their energy managers and the impetus of the state mandate to track energy use. We could not have envisioned even 10 years ago that the association would have a supporting role to play in this field, but I am pleased we were able to respond, first with the SEMP program and now with these new efforts. Our role, like yours in school districts, evolves to meet changing needs.
– For more information about KSBA’s school energy savings efforts please contact Ron Willhite at 1-800-372-2962.