School district reaches milestone

Published 8:48 am Thursday, February 22, 2018

LaFAYETTE — The Chambers County School District has reached a milestone in its energy savings program and at Wednesday afternoon’s monthly meeting of the board of education, representatives of Schneider Electric were present to congratulate school officials for the achievement of $500,000 in savings.

Without the system’s current energy savings program, a half million dollars that went toward instruction would have gone to utility bills.

“This savings milestone is a testament to our ongoing initiative to operate in the most fiscally responsible way, allowing us to ensure optimal learning environments without burdening local taxpayers,” said Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge. “We are extremely proud to partner with an expert like Schneider Electric who took the time to understand our needs and has deep experience throughout the state of Alabama.”

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Dave Horton, a performance assurance specialist, with Schneider commended Transportation Director Mike Frazier and Energy Manager Andrew Leak on having done good work in the program.

“Mr. Leak does a fantastic job of staying in touch with us,” he said. “You’ve done a great job of saving energy throughout your system.”

“We want this to be a long-term partnership,” said Kyle Keith, assistant executive. “We try to be as helpful as we can.”

For many years, Chambers County Schools struggled with a growing list of deferred maintenance challenges, including equipment failures and outdated technology. To address these issues, the district several years ago turned to Schneider Electric to conduct a comprehensive energy audit and to develop a customized energy efficiency plan. Savings came from a wide variety of measures that improved energy efficiency and enhanced the learning environment, including:

•Brightening classrooms, hallways, gyms and outdoor spaces with the latest lighting and controls;

•Streamlining operations with a new district-wide building automation system;

•Reducing water waste with retrofits to existing systems;

•Improving staff productivity with IT server virtualization;

•Saving energy with computer power management and mechanical modifications at select buildings, and

•Improving comfort with window replacements at six schools.

The project was funded through an energy savings performance contract, which uses projected utility savings to pay for infrastructure improvements. This enables cash-strapped school districts to tackle deferred maintenance projects without raising taxes in the local community.

“The Chambers County School District has demonstrated a commitment to ongoing sustainability initiatives, and we are proud to help the district meet their operational goals and take on much-needed infrastructure improvements,” said Tammy Fulop, vice president, Schneider Electric. “We are committed to helping school districts in Alabama and beyond create best-in-class learning environments while becoming leaders in sustainability.”

In addition to the facilities improvements, the project delivers a significant environmental impact, with over two million kilowatt hours saved since the start up. That’s enough energy to power more than 160 homes for an entire year.

The project builds on Schneider Electric’s expertise in energy efficiency projects in Alabama, having implemented over $250 million in energy efficiency projects for more than 40 clients and helping public entities secure over $60 million in energy-related grants and rebates. In addition to its work with Chambers County Schools, Schneider Electric has partnered with a quarter of all school districts in the state including Gadsden City Schools, Etowah County Schools, Blount County Schools and Marshall County Schools.

Over the past 25 years, Schneider Electric has successfully implemented more than 675 energy savings performance contract projects across the U.S., saving its clients nearly $2 billion. This project delivery method helps publicly-funded entities make capital improvements over longer payback periods and offers many long-term benefits such as improved facility efficiency, occupant comfort, financial management and environmental protection.

For more information on how Schneider Electric helps  k-12 schools tackle their top priorities with energy efficiency, please visit

Chambers County’s energy savings has outpaced Schneider’s original projections for the system.

“We predicted $370,000 in savings at this point,” said  Marissa Bunce, regional client coordinator, “and you’re now at $500,000.”