Like many school districts throughout the country, the Mt. Pleasant ISD had an aging infrastructure, limited capital budgets, and expanding educational needs. Critical improvements were needed, but a bond referendum or other tax-based solution was not an option.
Working closely with the district, NextEra Energy Solutions created a multi-phase plan under which renovations would be done using a performance contracting agreement. Over the performance period of the contract, savings are guaranteed by the implementation of specific energy conservation measures.
Additional savings will come in the form of rebates from the local utility and by taking advantage of a Department of Education loan program. NextEra helped the school district apply for utility rebates as well as a funding mechanism known as Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB). The federal QZAB program enables qualifying schools to borrow at nominal interest rates (as low as zero percent) for costs incurred in connection with improving energy efficiency, implementing renewable energy measures, and teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) academic curricula.
As part of the QZAB process, NextEra committed to make an in-kind contribution of products and services equal to 10 percent of the overall project cost. This included two 10-kW solar arrays that not only produce electricity, but also provide a teaching platform to support STEM curricula. Real-time information about the solar panels and their savings profile is available through all the district’s computers and is used for classes on sustainable energy production and other topics.
The work at Mt. Pleasant ISD encompasses over 20 buildings, including elementary, middle, and high schools as well as special education, administration, warehouse, and sports facilities. The total savings result from lower energy costs, reduced maintenance expense, and capital cost avoidance over 15 years.
The renovation program is also delivering other tangible benefits besides energy conservation and reduced maintenance costs for older equipment. The addition of high-efficiency HVAC units will improve environmental conditions while saving energy. Students and staff will enjoy brighter, more consistent, and uniform light levels in all upgraded buildings. In addition, a building automation system has been installed, enabling central control of the district buildings.
“The improvements and savings at almost every facility in the district are remarkable, and more important, measurable,” said Mt. Pleasant District Superintendent Dr. Lynn Dehart. “A renovation of this magnitude would not have been possible without the expertise of NextEra Energy Solutions and the close working relationship we created.”
For more information, visit www.NextEraEnergySolutions.com/ESCO.
Publication date: 2/4/2013