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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 23, 2009

BKW contracts Honeywell for energy performance

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — This week, the Berne-Knox-Westerlo Board of Education signed a letter of intent on a $1.2-million energy plan that does not involve a controversial proposal to place a windmill on school grounds. Honeywell International Inc. was hired, rather than Johnson Controls.

BKW plans to revamp its energy infrastructure. The district was considering a plan that would employ Johnson Controls for the project, and included the addition of a 5-kilowatt solar-panel system on the roof of the middle-high school, and a 100-kilowatt windmill in the field behind the school.

“The board agreed to the proposal from Honeywell, the reason, I believe, being that the windmill portion of the Johnson Controls proposal was causing too much debate, and it was imperative that the board select one of the contract proposals so that those systems could be installed and coordinated with the new systems that were already going to be a part of the regular building project,” Superintendent Steve Schrade said this week.

Plans for the building project include a new cafeteria, a new technology room, and new bathrooms and locker rooms in the middle-high school — all accessible to those with handicaps. In a recent projection, Schrade said the district hopes to seek bids for construction in late August or early September. Construction would start in the fall of 2009, continue for the next 12 to 14 months, and be nearly completed by the fall of 2010, he said.

“There are new heating systems that are going to be installed in the building project,” Schrade said this week, “and whichever company, and whichever type of system we were going to choose for the energy performance contract, we wanted to make sure they matched. And it was obvious to me, and, I believe, to the board members, that there was going to be a prolonged debate over the viability and acceptability of having a windmill on school property.”

The total project cost will be $1,200,424, but incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will cover about $37,780 of the cost, BKW’s Business Administrator Timothy Holmes said this week.

Additionally, the cumulative positive cash flow — the amount of money the district will make after the project has paid for itself — is estimated to be $460,811 over the life of the contract, Holmes said. According to Assistant Superintendent Kim LaBelle, that contract could last between 15 and 18 years, but the details are still being ironed out.

“Honeywell, being the less controversial of the two proposals, had its own advantages,” Schrade went on. “For one, it’s going to supply a good number of brand new unit ventilators, the units installed in each classroom which draw in fresh air from the outside, and exhaust the classroom air, therefore lessening the amount of [carbon dioxide] in the classroom. A number of the unit ventilators in the elementary school are not working properly and need to be replaced.”

LaBelle said that district officials will meet with Honeywell on Friday to continue working on the details of the agreement.

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