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Weber District Battles Energy Crunch

Weber District Battles Energy Crunch



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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Teachers in the Weber School District who leave their lights on overnight will be getting a reminder that there's an energy crunch.

The district has contracted with an energy-management consultant in an effort to reduce unnecessary costs. It has also hired two energy managers to make sure things are shut down and turned on at the appropriate times and is using a four-day work week during the summer.

Drew Wilson, the district administrative director of facilities, said the savings for this summer alone have come in at $60,000.

"We're saving taxpayers' money, as well as money on maintenance crews, custodians and vehicles," Wilson said.

The district contracted with Energy Education Inc. of Texas two years ago. The district pays $231,000 each year for four years for a promised savings of $4 million in energy costs. After the fifth year, the district doesn't pay anything, but Energy Education still consults.

For electricity one year ago, the school district paid $1,158,495. The bill is now $1,029,865, a savings of $128,630. For natural gas a year ago, the district paid $1,085,920. This year, the district will pay $874,790, a savings of $211,130.

Some of the changes include keeping temperatures at 74-78 degrees in the summer and 68-72 degrees in the winter. Custodians don't heat the buildings so early, and they shut the heat off at night.

A $15,000 computer software program called Energy CAP tracks energy usage in the district's buildings.

The district also added two energy managers, who visit the buildings, check meters and valves. They review utility bills and find billing errors.

"Sometimes it takes some investigation," said Maloy Hales, a retired elementary principal who is one of the energy managers.

And if a district employee is caught wasting energy, they get a "ticket" that reads "Oops! When I stopped by your room, I discovered you accidentally left on your ...."

A different colored paper is left thanking employees for conserving energy.

"Looks great! Thank you for having everything turned off or down when this room was not occupied. Your help is greatly appreciated!"

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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