Natural gas and solar panels: Sparta schools greenlight energy savings program

Sparta. The school board approved a contract with Honeywell International not to exceed $7.75 million to install energy conservation measures.

Sparta /
| 03 Feb 2022 | 11:57

The Sparta school board on Jan. 20 approved the district’s Energy Improvement Savings Program, which aims to save the district $8 million over the next 15 years.

The school board unanimously approved a contract with Honeywell International Inc., not to exceed $7.75 million, to provide and install the necessary energy conservation measure.

The total cost of the plan is not to exceed $8 million.

The school board secretary, H. Ron Smith, said Honeywell did an energy audit and came back with a list of projects that could save the district energy.

One item Honeywell looked at was solar panels on the roof of Sparta Township High School, which would produce half the building’s electricity at no cost.

Also proposed was converting boilers from oil to natural gas, which would cut the operating cost in half. Four of the district’s five schools use oil, and one uses natural gas. The other four will be converted.

All 14 classroom ventilators will be changed in the Mohawk Avenue School for money savings and improved airflow.

The district also plans to install cost-saving LED light bulbs in the high school and Sparta Township Middle School.

Smith said the district would just have to keep its energy budget line items flat, spend less, and use the money saved to pay for the necessary financing.

The school board last summer hired an engineer to audit Honeywell’s plan and confirmed the number was accurate. The plan was then sent to the state Bureau of Public Utilities, which also confirmed the findings of the first two audits.

“We’re going to get through without costing any additional money to the taxpayer,” Smith said.

Superintendent Matthew Beck said the project would start over the summer, as the work can’t happen during the school year while children and staff are there.