34,800 Light Bulbs Later, District Completes Energy Savings Project

School energy savings will pay for $8.5 million in upgrades, repairs.

Honeywell representative Joe Coscia (at right) reviewed the energy saving work done in Bridgewater schools as part of the Energy Savings Improvement Program contract. Credit: John Patten
Honeywell representative Joe Coscia (at right) reviewed the energy saving work done in Bridgewater schools as part of the Energy Savings Improvement Program contract. Credit: John Patten
Energy-saving projects in Bridgewater schools totaling more than $8.5 million are nearly complete—but taxpayers needn't worry about pending hikes.

Under the terms of an Energy Savings Improvement Program signed with Honeywell Corp., the district is guaranteed to realize at least $592,025 in annual energy savings—which will offset the cost of improvements made following an energy audit.

The board reviewed progress on the ESIP plan at its meeting Nov. 26, where Honeywell representative Joseph Coscia outlined the work done and potential for greater savings.

"Bottom line: the project was under budget, we were able to take on additional projects, and it's substantially done," Coscia said.

The program began in February, when the board OK'd the agreement with Honeywell to undertake an assessment and develop a plan to address the most inefficient energy uses in the district—and to finance and complete work addressing those uses to be paid for by the savings realized by the district.

Coscia said the 15-year financing will cost the district $592,025 annually—which Honeywell guaranteed will be covered by savings the district will realize in reduced electrical and gas consumption.

Should the district save even more, Coscia said the district gains the difference; if the savings don't materialize, he said Honeywell is obligated to pay the difference—and take further steps to reduce the district's energy costs.

"It's a real win-win," board member Evan Lerner said.

The work included everything from simply replacing and resealing caulking and weatherstripping around windows and doors, to installing eight new boilers and replacing older light fixtures with new ones. Fans to better circulate air and balance heating and cooling were installed.

Higher-tech improvements, such as automatic lighting shutoff sensors for hallways and a centralized control system will further save the district.

Altogether, Coscia said 34,800 light bulbs, 13,100 fluorescent light ballasts, and 1,300 sensors were installed .

Robin B December 06, 2013 at 07:50 AM
I just hope someone who approved this project knows a little about economic analyses. It's always difficult to know from a few numbers as those quoted, but if taxpayers paid $8.5M upfront and save about $592K annually, that's over a 14 year payback....hardly impressive. In fact the private sector would put such money to other use with a more definite, shorter payback period. Who monitors and annually reports ACTUAL savings? I'm guessing some of the payment is 'free' federal funds to the schools, maybe also state, but not 'free' to taxpayers.
John Patten (Editor) December 06, 2013 at 08:00 AM
Robin-- The state established the program which provides the framework and financing for the projects (see more at http://www.njcleanenergy.com/ESIP). Bridgewater requested RFPs for the project, and selected Honeywell to perform an audit, and design the work, and the company guarantees the results, as mentioned. All of the work done has a minimum 15-year life expectancy. Officials view the project as beneficial since the cost of utilities is expected to rise, the district will save even more later.
Robin B December 06, 2013 at 10:55 AM
I checked that website. There is not one objective financial criteria I could find. If projects are cost effective in the private sector, why does government feel the need to provide incentives. This reminds me of solar panels on home rooftops: uneconomical by any standard. The only reason such foolishish endures is that the government provides 'incentives' to homeowners and solar power providers. No such projects would prove cost effective without 'free' governmebnt sdubsidies.
John Patten (Editor) December 06, 2013 at 11:04 AM
I believe the only financial involvement is that financing is available through the state. It's Honeywell's analysts that determined the projects that made the most sense—and it's Honeywell who is on the hook if they're wrong. This really is not akin to the incentives you mentioned.
Robin B December 06, 2013 at 11:04 AM
An example of one objective financial criteria commonly used in the private sector is a 'hurdle rate'....a projected minimum rate of return that any project must return to warrant consideration for funding. Meeting such a benchmark doesn't mean the project will be approved, only that it meets a criteria necessary for consideration.
Robin B December 06, 2013 at 11:06 AM
Here is an example of a risk factor never considered for wind farm power generation: "The Obama administration is about to approve a rule that will ensure the death of golden and bald eagles for the next 30 more years. Hundreds of thousands of birds die each year flying into the deadly turbine blades atop the soaring towers that compose wind farms. The rule that Obama is signing will give wind farms thirty year permits for the “non purposeful take of eagles-that is where the take is associated with but not the purpose of, the activity.’’ The take of eagles is also a euphemism for the slaughter of them..... http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/12/05/Obama-to-Sign-Rule-Allowing-Death-of-Eagles Pity the birds.
M Polanco December 10, 2013 at 08:42 PM
My son in law works on these projects and the truth is that they are a great avenue for schools to get work done. I understand the concern around ROI and hurdle rates, but the simple fact is that a school is not a business. These projects provide a way for the schools to perform necessary improvements such as boiler replacements without asking the taxpayer for more money. This project did not include solar or wind energy only real energy efficiency projects focused on freeing up enough money to perform the critical repairs. Is the payback 15 or so years? Yeah, but even a private entity has to keep heat in the building and if the boilers are failing then hurdle rates and ROI go out the window. The goal is to keep the facility operational.


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