District contacts with Climatec for distributed energy resources

September 7, 2018

NEEDLES — The Needles Unified School District signed an agreement with Climatec, LLC to handle the complete project in updating all of their schools, including their administrative building, with new HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) units, lighting and controls in the amount of $998,771.

According to background information provided by school staff, Climatec is responsible for the design, engineering, permits, fees, approvals, project management, installation, startup, training, checkout, warranty, and insurance specifically associated with work to be performed.

Some work includes:

• Removing and replacing 28 existing thermostats controlling 23 packaged heat pump and five wall-mounted heat pumps with Wi-Fi-based HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) controls that allow internet access for remote temperature set point and schedule adjustments, alerts and occupancy based sensors;

• Retrofit identified existing interior standard efficiency Tubular (T) 8, T12, incandescent, and CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) lighting systems with new LED lighting systems;

• Installing occupancy sensors in selected locations to automatically turn off the lights when space is not being used;

• Replacing two 4-ton, nine 5-ton, two 6-ton and one 10-ton packaged rooftop heat pumps with high-efficiency units of similar size and capacity.

“I have a planning meeting and we will set the work schedule with Climatec,” said Mary McNeil, NUSD superintendent. “The plan is for them to have it all done in the next few months so they’ll be working while school is in session. That’s why having a work schedule is important because we will have to move some classes around to accommodate the improvements being made.”

The infrastructure improvements are to be funded by Proposition 39 (Prop. 39, The California Clean Energy Jobs Act), guaranteed savings and Route Restricted Maintenance Account (RRMA).

Prop. 39 was a voter-approved initiative in the November 2012 statewide general election. Prop. 39 was to provide annual transfers from the general fund to the Clean Energy Job Creation Fund for a period of five years, 2013-14 through 2017-18. Prop. 39 funds are provided to local educational agencies (LEAs) to improve energy efficiency and create clean energy jobs. The California Energy Commission (CEC) must approve the LEA’s energy project expenditure plan before the California Department of Education (CDE) may disburse funds.

“We used the Prop. 39 grant as a down payment to start off the project,” said McNeil. “Originally we were only looking to get $70,000; then it went up to $150,000; now we’re up to $295,211. But in the end, it might be more.”

“Any school could have applied for the Prop. 39 grant since it was a pot of money that the state had set aside for improvements to schools,” continued McNeil. “The grant was a difficult concept to understand and schools had to work with another company like Climatec and so a lot of districts didn’t bother to do it. So that made more money available for the districts that did apply for it.”

According to Climatec, the lifecycle savings that the school district could end up seeing could be up to $1,699,043 after all the infrastructure improvements.

“I’m sure it will be less than that, however, air conditioning is changing in the next couple of years to something that doesn’t hurt the environment,” said McNeil. “Since our air conditioners are 30 years old we would need to keep on adding freon to keep them up to date. But there’s going to be a time when we won’t even be able to buy freon so we would need to replace all those air conditioners for about $10,000, each which would be very hard. So I’m sure we will see savings just because of how the new air conditioners are made. Also, Climatec went over all our bills and records and told us where we could improve the most. So we should see savings.”

“A part of the savings with this company (Climatec) is that they have a guaranteed minimum, so if we don’t meet that guaranteed minimum (on an annual basis) each year they write us a check,” said McNeil. “They say that they have never had to write a check to anyone.”

For the first three years, the NUSD will pay $5,200 on top of the original annual payment of $62,925 for a total of $68,126.

“The $5,200 for three years is the cost of the report required by the state to determine if you’re meeting your required savings or not,” said McNeil.

After the three years are up the $5,200 will drop from the annual payment which brings it back to the original amount that will be paid for the remainder of the loan (to 15 years).

“We don’t repay this year but the good news is that we can use our maintenance budget for other things and next year we will start the payment,” said McNeil.

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