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Norwin School District enters into energy-curtailment plan

| Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 10:04 p.m.

Norwin School District officials plan to bring in $47,770 over the next four years by shutting down its power when needed to accommodate extra electricity needs.

District officials plan to enter an energy-curtailment agreement with Bethel Park-based Clear Choice Energy at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, through the 2016-17 school year. The plan allows the district's energy provider, Direct Energy, to pull electricity from Norwin's campus when there is more demand for power than the company can provide.

Norwin's director of business affairs, John Wilson, said an energy action day occurs when Direct Energy's customers need more power than its grid can provide. The agreement requires the district to shut down a percentage of its power consumption to accommodate Direct Energy's need for power, he said.

“It's like we're providing Clear Choice Energy with an insurance policy,” Wilson said. “For example, if it's an excessively hot day and everybody is using their air conditioner, we'll agree to shut down a portion of our energy consumption to take pressure off the power grid.”

The amount of electricity the district could divert depends on the time of the year. During the summer months, when students and teachers are not in Norwin's buildings, district officials would be more likely to shut off larger amounts of power, Wilson said. During fall and winter months, the district could shut off only a small section of the buildings' power, he said.

The contract marks the second three-year deal Norwin has struck with Clear Choice Energy, Wilson said.

The current deal concludes at the end of the 2012-13 school year and brought the district $126,000 but never required officials to shut down any power, Wilson said.

“The last agreement was more because Clear Choice Energy thought there might not be enough power, so they were willing to pay us more,” Wilson said.

“Now, they believe they will have all the power they need, so they aren't paying us as much.”

Wilson said energy-curtailment agreements are common among school districts in Westmoreland County. He said each of the county's 17 districts participate in a similar agreement.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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