Cache County School District completes energy efficiency and renewable energy project

Rocky Mountain Power Regional Business Manager Steven Leichty presents Summit Elementary School Principal Aimee McNeil and Cache County School District Superintendent Steve Norton with a certificate for their sustainability and operational efficiencies

SMITHFIELD – The Cache County School District, partnered with Johnson Controls and Rocky Mountain Power, celebrated the completion of an energy efficiency and renewable energy project which will help the district conserve energy and reduce expenses on Tuesday at Summit Elementary.

Speakers from CCSD, Johnson Controls and Rocky Mountain Power addressed sixth grade students and invited guests, including Smithfield Mayor Jeff Barnes, in an assembly educating the students about the project and the impact it will have in the community.

“The reason that we are doing this today and the reason that the last three years that we have been working on this project is for you guys,” CCSD Energy Manager Bruce James said. “If you didn’t come to school here and you didn’t participate on a daily basis, there wouldn’t be any need for us to have the lights on. We have been working on ways to do that for less money and that way the money we were spending, that we’re saving, can be used in your education.”

James said the district had been attempting to become more energy efficient and sustainable over 20 years ago by making adjustments to the temperature in schools and encouraging people to turn the lights off when they left a room, but they wanted a more effective plan.

“Well, we managed that very well,” James said. “We always knew that we could do better and we could do more.”

CCSD partnered with Johnson Control about three years ago to help design and implement a district-wide project to identify a list of facility improvement measures that would help the district become more energy efficient and reduce operational costs.

“This project was district wide,” James said “We went into every single school. We may not have done as much in some of the schools as we did here in Summit, but we did things in each one of the schools.”

Johnson Controls Senior Account Executive Scott Rees said the main goal of this project was to improve the learning environment for CCSD students.

“We want you to know how important you are to us,” James said.

Some of the improvements schools in the district have seen include switching the gymnasium lighting, adding lighting controls that turn the lights on or off based on motion sensors, added air conditioning in the auditorium in both Sky View and Mountain Crest high schools, upgrading building automation systems and solar projects in Summit and Lewiston elementary schools.

“You should know that there aren’t a whole lot of schools in this nation who get their energy from the sun and you are one of those,” CCSD Superintendent Steve Norton said.

The district-wide project cost about $15 million but will help CCSD save an estimated $16 million in operational costs over the next 20 years.

The solar projects, which were funded by a $637,225 grant from Rocky Mountain Power through their Blue Sky Program, are estimated to save more than $25,000 annually.

Rocky Mountain Power customers can enroll in the Blue Sky Program in which they pay a little more on their invoice and those funds are then used for sustainable projects.

“We love these opportunities where we can come into a community and provide support, especially in the school district,” Rocky Mountain Power Regional Business Manager Steven Liechty said.

Norton said the partnership between the three entities was an important part of the success of this project.

“I think that Cache County School District is a great example of being able to work with a private agency and our power company,” Norton said. “We’ve got a district that I think pretty much does what it’s supposed to in the behavior of our people.”

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