2018-08-30 / Around Town

School Committee Explores Energy Savings

By Christopher Allen

In their last meeting before the start of the 2018-19 school year, the Middletown School Committee voted on Aug. 28 to move forward with the creation of a special Joint Building and Energy Committee charged with reducing energy costs and consumption throughout the district’s public buildings.

With an anticipated rise in energy costs, most notably National Grid’s regional utility plan to raise its rates 19 percent for Rhode Island customers this coming winter, Director of Facilities Management David Fontes unveiled the plan to get the various departments in Middletown to work collaboratively to conserve resources wherever possible.

“I think it’s a good time,” Fontes said, “especially with the town, as we collaborate more.”

Fontes added that the district is currently in a good position to explore “green sustainability” initiatives that could be accomplished collaboratively between the school department and town, which is an ever-growing trend on the national level, with opportunities for outside grants and state reimbursement programs.

For example, recent installations of LED lighting throughout the elementary school buildings helped the department realize significant electricity savings along with a National Grid incentive to jump-start the project.

“[We want] to get all of the stakeholders [together] as we move forward making decisions in the future,” Fontes said.

According to school officials, this committee would be comprised of representatives from both the town council and school committee, if approved by the council. Fontes added that having additional representatives from the town would also be helpful.

“They are stakeholders also,” he said.

Committee member William O’Connell broached the subject of solar panels for the district to curb electricity costs. Fontes responded that there are currently programs to explore how the district could lease their roofs to a private company and purchase energy credits from them at a discounted rate.

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