The Virgin Islands government continues its efforts to cut energy costs at government agencies through energy-saving, performance contracts, according to a press release issued Friday by the Virgin Islands Energy Office.
Last week, Gov. John P. deJongh Jr. signed agreements for energy audits and implementation plans for the Knud Hansen Complex and the Golden Grove Correctional Facility. After the signing, he said, “We have found a method that helps government agencies cut costs; the data is in. The more agencies we can get involved in the process, the better.”
The V. I. Energy Office (VIEO) has been monitoring these programs that bring energy efficiency to government agencies without costing the government any money. A pilot project utilizing an energy service company was funded with $6.7 million in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act grant funds in 2010. The project completed in October of 2011 attained its goals, saving 11 schools through energy efficiency measures over $1.3 million in the first year of the contract on its Water and Power Authority bill. The most recent report shows a savings of another $1.7 million.
Energy Office Director Karl Knights said, “Energy efficiency is not as high profile as solar installations or wind turbines, but it is still the most cost effective way when one wants to bring energy costs down.”
An energy-saving performance contract is an agreement between a building’s owner and an energy service company to guarantee cost-saving improvements. The company conducts an audit of the facility, identifying energy-saving improvements, then designs and installs what meets the owner’s needs. The contractor for the V.I. schools, Energy Systems Group (ESG), had guaranteed $1.2 million in savings.
After the early success, ESG was authorized to install lighting and water retrofits in the 34 remaining schools and other V.I. Department of Education facilities. VIEO receives yearly reports on the savings accomplished by these contracts.
In January of this year, Gov. deJongh signed an energy savings contract with FPL Energy Services Inc. (FPLES) to cut energy costs at the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center, Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center and the Roy Lester Schneider Medical Center.
VIEO Director Karl Knight said, “This project has gotten off the ground quickly, and we expect to see the same success at energy savings that we saw with the earlier projects. While energy cost reduction is critical, the ability to address deferred maintenance issues and make energy-saving capital improvements is also important.”
The conservation measures at the facilities include water and lighting retrofits — the installation of LED lighting and high efficiency fluorescent lighting fixtures — occupancy sensors, low-flow toilets, low-flow urinals and push-button faucets. The hospital projects, besides the above mentioned energy-efficient measures, could include the installation of combined heat and power systems, solar photovoltaic systems and large capital equipment – boilers, chillers, freezers, coolers and laundry equipment.
The V.I. Legislature, in 2013, authorized the V.I. Public Finance Authority to issue $35 million in bonds to fund these projects.
Energy Systems Group, Indianapolis, Ind., has been an energy service provider since 1994. FPL Energy Services Inc. is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc. and an affiliate of Florida Power & Light Company.
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