The massive $14.5 million energy infrastructure upgrade project, 75-percent completed over the summer, has started to pay dividends for the school district.
School officials said the district has saved $38,000, enough money to buy 500 tons of salt, in July and August. Much of the savings came from installation of 30,192 light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs at school buildings, according to Valerie Moran of Energy Systems Group, firm undertaking the project.
At the end of the project 37,000 new light bulbs will have been installed at 17 school buildings, Moran told school board members on Thursday night. The project also includes occupancy sensors, boiler replacements, cooling and heating improvements, rooftop solar panels, and roofing upgrades.
“These are tremendous steps forward in improving our school buildings for our students and staff, and saving money for Paterson taxpayers,” said superintendent Eileen Shafer. “We look forward to the end of this phase of the project in the not-to-distant future.”
20 contractors are working on phase one of the energy project. 10 schools have been prepped, roofs were resurfaced and inverters were installed, for solar panel installation next month. School 4 and 9 will be first to get solar panels.
The school district expects to save on average $850,000 per year. Over 18 years it will save $15 million in energy costs.
“Any money we can save in energy costs is money we can potentially spend on educating children in Paterson,” said school board president Oshin Castillo. “The ESIP initiative is bringing new life into our school buildings. Hopefully, it will help bring new resources to our education programs.”
The upgrades are being made through the New Jersey Board of Utilities’ Energy Savings Improvement Program (ESIP). The state has strict requirements to ensure the project pays for itself through savings over time.
“What makes this project so special is not just the energy efficiency component but the opportunity for the students of Paterson School District participating as a learning project,” said Rodney Williams, director of Energy and Project Control at the school district.
The contractor has created a six-week Saturday STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) program. Two sessions in fall and spring will involve 80 students, who will learn about solar power.
School officials expect phase one to be completed at the end of October. The first phase covers upgrades at School 1, 26, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 27. School officials embraced the energy project as a way to upgrade some of the district’s aging schools — some buildings are over 100 years old.
Phase two, a more ambitious energy upgrade project, will involve 22 schools, said Steve Morlino, facilities director at the Paterson Public Schools.
Morlino said the district will receive proposals from companies to undertake phase two in late October.