Douglas school district recognized for energy savings initiative |

Douglas school district recognized for energy savings initiative

MINDEN – The Douglas County School District has been recognized for its good governance, literally.

The district’s Operations Team recently was named the Nevada School District Finalist for the Cashman Good Government Award.

At a meeting on Feb. 23 in Carson City, the Nevada Taxpayers Association recognized the district for its energy services performance contract, which enabled the district to reduce overall power costs by making energy-smart improvements at various sites.

Chief Financial Officer Holly Luna said the contract exceeded estimated savings by more than $50,000 during the first contract year.

“While we were not named the winner of 2011 (Washoe County), the recognition of a job well done is kudos to our team for all the hard efforts and collaboration,” Luna said. “This project would not have been successful without the Operations Team coming together and having the mind-set of ‘we can, and we will.’ By no means did the cooperation end with these folks, but this core group of people were essential to this project’s success.”

Cited in the finalist designation was the school district’s ability to finance improvements with the savings achieved from the energy conservation measures, especially significant in “a time of declining budgets.”

“Annual savings estimated at $456,154 per year were exceeded by more than 10 percent in the first two years of use,” the NTA program read.

In 2008, school board members approved a contract with Ameresco Inc. as an alternative way to fund, through energy savings, installation of new lights, windows, trash compactors and other items conducive to increased energy efficiency. Celtic Energy Inc. was selected as the third party consultant, as required by state law.

Projects identified in an energy audit began in June 2008 and finished by the end of the 2009 summer break. The district was guaranteed to achieve a minimum of $450,000 in total annual savings in order to repay the financing interest and principal.

In 2009 alone, the confirmed annual savings of the entire project were recorded at $513,093.

Luna thanked Gary Cullen, Gina Steinman, Eric Ristine, William Blumenthal, Patrick Forster, Gene Kochan, Charlie Lang and the Douglas County School Board of Trustees for their support of the project.

The Cashman Good Government Award was established in 1997. According to the taxpayers association, the award recognizes “those state and local government employees who make strong and consistent efforts to spend taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently.”

Finalists are chosen from the following categories: counties, cities and towns, schools and state government.

Stateline resident Lawrence Howell, who is vice chair of the Keep Improving Douglas Schools committee, nominated the district for the award.

“At a time when government is being blamed for overspending and acting irresponsibly, I submitted the nomination for the Douglas County School District to receive the Cashman Good Government Award because their performance in the energy services performance contract was ‘above and beyond’ expectations. It was an example of a governmental agency demonstrating fiscally responsible and forward thinking,” Howell said. “Our community and the taxpayers in Nevada ultimately will continue to benefit, and such performance deserves recognition.

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