Philadelphia district announces ambitious energy-saving program

Philadelphia district announces ambitious energy-saving program

Pilot project could lead to districtwide energy performance contract that could save $600 million over 20 years.

The Philadelphia School District says it will launch an energy-savings program that could save hundreds of millions of dollars and help make a dent in the system’s $4.5 billion in deferred capital projects.

Philly.com reports that district officials estimate that entering into an energy performance contract could cut the school system's energy costs in half. Over 20 years, more efficient systems and practices could save the district $600 million.

“The pilot program we are announcing today could yield up to $345 million in new funding, comes at no additional cost to taxpayers, and could result in as much as $600 million in energy savings over 20 years for the district, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke says in a news release. "I’m excited about this holistic approach to addressing capital and budgetary needs that benefits our school children and District personnel.”

If a three-school pilot program slated to begin this fall is successful, the program could go citywide over the next several years.

With an energy performance contract, a school district works with an energy services company and is permitted to borrow against anticipated savings from energy upgrades to pay for capital improvements that reduce energy consumption.

The work itself could be financed for terms of 20 years or less in a variety of ways, such as through selling bonds or entering into municipal leases.

The school system has taken the first step toward launching the pilot by seeking an engineering firm to lead it.

The district spends about $45 million on energy costs annually. Officials say they believe they can get that down to about $23 million.

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