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Inside: Energy

Kentucky program promotes alternative fuels

Four school districts and a university in Kentucky are part of a pilot project to encourage greater use of cleaner-burning fuel for school buses.

The Kentucky Division of Energy is providing grants to help the schools replace diesel fuel with biodiesel blends in up to 20 percent of their school buses and other equipment. The grant funds will offset the higher cost of biodiesel, a fuel made from soybean oil or used cooking oils.

The Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition, which administers the program, says that in addition to reducing pollution, biodiesel is easy to use because it requires no engine modifications for use and no modifications for storage.

Two institutions honored for energy management

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy have named the Poudre School District in Fort Collins, Colo., and Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., as Energy Star Partners of the Year for 2003. Each institution received the award for leadership in energy management.

Dutchess Community College is the first community college in the nation to receive the Energy Star award. It was recognized for its aggressive energy-efficiency goals, which call for reducing consumption by 35 percent by 2010.

By taking part in the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's energy grant program and a performance contract with Johnson Controls, the school has reduced overall energy use by 13 percent. Federal officials lauded the college for making "significant efforts to communicate the value of their energy-efficiency efforts to the campus staff and students, the local community, and the statewide and national education community."

The Poudre district was recognized for its continuing efforts to increase energy awareness and efficiency. In 2002, 10 additional schools in the district surpassed Energy Star performance levels; more than 40 percent of the district's school buildings qualify as Energy Star schools.

The district says that it has completed 95 energy-efficiency projects from January 1994 to October 2002, resulting in a total savings of $1,225,404.

"As an incentive to school staff to do their part to reduce energy by 10 percent, the district provides energy rebates that channel savings back to the school for education," the federal agencies stated in honoring the district.

Texas energy program to help El Paso district

The El Paso (Texas) district has received a $444,075 loan from the state comptroller's office to improve energy efficiency in the school system.

The district will use the funds to install high-efficiency lighting upgrades in its facilities. The improvements are expected to save more than $61,000 a year in energy costs. The El Paso district will pay the loan off in seven years with the money saved through the upgrades.

"Instead of paying bloated utility bills, these dollars should be going to teacher benefits, computers and instructional materials in the classroom," says Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn.

The loan comes from the LoanSTAR (Saving Taxes and Resources) program, which provides loans to school districts and other public entities to pay for renovating buildings and energy systems to reduce energy costs. The loan program is administered by the State Energy Conservation Office, a division of the comptroller's office.

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