News Graphic, Georgetown, Dec. 18, 2012
Schools save $1M by trimming energy use
By Dan Adkins
A three-year-old effort to make Scott County schools more energy-efficient has led to total savings exceeding $1 million, says the man who has guided the effort.
Jim McClanahan, energy manager for Scott County Schools, said the district crossed the million-dollar mark a few weeks ago.
The effort is aimed at reducing power consumption primarily by changing people’s habits, McClanahan said: being mindful to turn off lights and furnaces when not in use.
The district also discovered savings by becoming more aware of available opportunities, McClanahan said.
Such as making sure the district’s all-electric buildings were receiving advantageous rates from Kentucky Utilities.
“(Former school board chairman) Ron Wilhite got it started. He had a vast knowledge of energy,” McClanahan said.
Wilhite suggested the district perform a rate study in 2009, he said.
That led to the district’s discovery that several buildings, such as Stamping Ground Elementary School, was not receiving the all-electric rate break.
“Ron got our rates changed to the lowest we could, and we got refunds going back to 2000,” McClanahan said.
In all, the district got nearly $160,000 in refunds on its all-electric schools.
The district qualified for other reduced rates, which, in all, trimmed another $500,000 or more from the bills, McClanahan said.
How much impact has that had?
“We spent $1.1 million last year for electricity,” district finance director Randy Cutright said.
“Without the reduced rates, we would have paid $1.4 million,) he said.
The district’s schools have also shown their own energy in getting students and teachers to buy in on the effort to reduce consumption.
Today, 10 of the district’s 11 schools are “energy-star” schools, meaning they have increased their efficiency in using – and not using – electricity.
Only Western Elementary has not earned its Energy Star, McClanahan said.
That appears to be temporary.
To earn an Energy Star, a school has to score 75 points on a scale that measures use and reductions.
“Western is just six points away,” he said.
That school can take inspiration from its sister to the north, McClanahan said.
When McClanahan began the Energy Star campaign in 2010, Western started off with 48 points.
Meanwhile, Northern Elementary, an older building, had just 33 points.
Last year, Northern got its star, McClanahan said.
But it hasn’t stopped with that achievement.
“This year, Northern went to 84 points,” he said.