Green Program Could Pay County Schools

SNOW HILL — Worcester County schools will have the chance this summer to make some green by going green.

On Tuesday, EnerNOC Business Development Manager Mark Roszko briefed the Board of Education on a program being offered that would pay schools to lower their energy use at peak times during the summer. By turning down the lights, the thermostat and other electric uses, Roszko explained that EnerNOC’s Demand Response Program could pay the board up to about $57,000.

Roszko pointed out that there would be an added bonus of reducing energy costs as well as the environmental benefits associated with diminished energy use.

Perhaps the best part, Roszko added, was that there would be no penalty if schools weren’t able to lower usage.

To receive the funding, schools would have to reduce usage during energy “events” over the summer. Events would only take place during the week, between noon and 8 p.m. They might only last an hour and would never run more than six. There would be no more than 10 events per year, said Roszko.

Before an event, Roszko promised the board that adequate time would be given to allow them to decide if any schools would like to participate.

“We give you basically two hours’ notice,” he said, though he noted that most events will come with even more announcement, such as emails earlier in the week.

Events usually occur during times when the power grid is hardest taxed, often after a few days of high temperatures, explained Roszko. To qualify for participation in the event, a school would have to lower its energy use a pre-determined amount below their average, or baseline, usage. Even if schools fail to meet the overall summer goal, Roszko said that they would still qualify for a portion of the $57,000 depending on how much they were able to cut back.

Because the events will only take place during the summer, they won’t disrupt typical school activities. If an event does occur during summer school classes or some other out-of-season school function, Roszko reiterated that any particular school can choose not to reduce usage at any time for any reason.

Assistant Superintendent of Administration Ed Barber said there seemed to be no downside to the program.

“They can’t turn us off. Only we can turn us off,” he said.

Barber also underlined that schools are always searching for ways to reduce energy use and being paid to do so is a great incentive.

The board voted unanimously to enter into the program.