Fayette school utility costs decrease with new building 10.06

Written by David Green.

$100,000 a month? Just for utilities at Fayette’s new school?

That’s hardly the case, but it’s a statement recently heard over a cup of coffee, said school district treasurer Kelly Bentley.

She decided a rumor of that nature was in need of some facts—especially for a new school built with some energy efficiency measures—so she compared utility costs from recent years.

The figures she found don’t take into account any increases in the cost of electricity, natural gas and water, nor in the quantity used. It’s simply a comparison of what the district has spent for utilities during the past nine years.

What she found is that despite rising costs, the district is spending less now than in the past.

Before the new school was built, the district was operating two buildings with large boilers for heating.

“We are now operating one building with electric heat pumps that are energy efficient and use considerably less water than the old boiler systems,” Bentley said. “We no longer use the same amount of natural gas to heat the new structure as we did with the two separate buildings.”

Comparing the combination of electricity, gas and water, the district is now averaging $8,400 a month—less than in 2004, 2005 and 2006. The figures from 2007, 2008 and part of 2009 include construction site utilities and costs have dropped off in 2010.

During 2009—the first full year in the new building—there was a learning curve in becoming acquainted with the new system and learning the control settings, Bentley said.

“I would conclude that the new building has nine percent less utility operating costs than the combination of the two structures in 2006,” she said.

More savings are on the horizon with the wind turbine that should be in operation by the end of the year. Estimates suggest the district will save between 40 and 50 percent of electrical costs when the turbine begins spinning.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2014