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Kansas: District Program Helps Avoid Millions In Utility Costs

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Kansan

By: Chad Frey

Just in time for Earth Day, on the calendar for April 22, Newton USD 373 has some figures to show how much has been saved by conservation efforts begun in 2002.

Since 2002, Newton USD 373 has focused on being more efficient in the area of utilities — and working to not only save money but to avoid energy costs.

That focus, started by then assistant superintendent Gary Jantz who now works part time as an energy specialist for the district, has achieved more than $3,725,000 in savings through a 24.2 percent reduction in energy use since May of 2002.

“The cost of utilities has one of the most significant impacts on the budget other than personnel expenses, and the prices for electricity, natural gas, water, and sewer have steadily increased over the past few years,” Jantz wrote in a letter to the board of educaiton and USD 373 staff. “The conservation program will save taxpayer dollars and preserve important programs while saving vital natural resources.”

To combat rising energy and utility costs, the district partnered with Cenergistic Company to create an energy conseration program. The reduced energy usage translates into the equivalent of 27,546 metric tons of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere, or 5,739 passenger cars removed from the road, or 706,300 trees planted.

In addition, this year ,eight of nine school buildings eligible for a Energy Star rating received an “excellent” rating. The ninth was given an “above average” rating.

“That is pretty cool. That is a lot of people making sure lights are shut off, doors are closed and blinds are closed,” said Russel Miller, assistant superintendent of finace for the district.

Miller said the $3.7 million is not “extra money that came to the distrct,” but a cost avoidance that has saved taxpayer funds.

“It has paid off over time. It is hard to count money you are not spending, but indeed, we have saved that amount of money by the conservation effforts that have been used,” Miller said.

According to Jantz, the total cost of utilities has risen in the district since 2007 due to increased building square footage and utility rates. However, according to the tracking software used to calculate savings and cost avoidances, the district still spent $493,000 less in 2015 than it would have without the conservation program. That represents a savings of nearly 37 percent.

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