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Penn-Trafford officials to look into energy-savings proposal

| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 9:03 p.m.

Penn-Trafford officials have done preliminary research into a potential energy-conservation contract and said they want to get savings estimates from a district of a similar size.

James Bracco, the district's director of facilities maintenance, said officials at Mt. Lebanon, South Butler and Blue Mountain school districts reported having a good experience with Texas-based Energy Education but those officials told Bracco there are some growing pains involved in getting employees to buy in and change habits.

The vice president of Energy Education last week told P-T school board members the district might be able to save $3 million in energy costs over a 10-year period.

Bracco said the three districts reported that some of the savings came through changes like minimizing lighting in buildings and shutting off kitchen appliances and computers when they're not in use.

“There's a lot of areas that we can improve on, just common-sense things,” Bracco said.

The firm's hourlong pitch last week focused on helping Penn-Trafford train a district employee to serve as an energy specialist to identify waste in energy usage and providing skilled technicians to counsel the district on utility maintenance.

Penn-Trafford wouldn't pay any fees to the firm if the district doesn't save any money.

Superintendent Tom Butler said administrators will determine if there is a comparable district participating in the program that would allow school board members to tour their buildings.

Bond resolution

District administrators will research bond rates so the school board can consider whether to borrow money for a possible building project.

Board members on Oct. 8 voted 8-0, with Bruce Newell absent, to have business manager Brett Lago examine borrowing options.

Lago has said interest rates for a $10-million bond could be less than 2 percent. He will determine how much the district could borrow without going above the $2.7 million in annual debt payments Penn-Trafford is paying now.

Next meeting

The school board has moved its next workshop meeting on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. to the Level Green Elementary School library.

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8671 or cforeman@tribweb.com.

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