Local school majors in cost savings, minors in energy usage

The Ste. Genevieve School District recently learned some important lessons of its own. Thanks to helpful instruction from its local electric co-op, Citizens Electric Corporation and a program called POWER MOVES, the schools are now saving money.

When Keith Schweiss, Director of Maintenance & Custodial for Ste. Genevieve Schools, attended Citizens Electric’s annual contractors’ dinner, Laura Matney from POWER MOVES introduced the group to the programs and to PowerMoves.com.

The result was not one but 12 applications for energy-efficient lighting incentives. Ste. Genevieve schools installed a wide variety of energy-efficient products ranging from LED exit signs and exterior lighting to occupancy sensors and CFL fixtures. They even changed all their fluorescent lighting to energy-efficient T8 fluorescent lights.

Filing for multiple applications took a little homework, but the school got a lot of helpful tutoring from Citizen Electric’s Barb Casper: “Usually the website has all the information anyone would need and, at most, maybe require an additional phone call,” Barb said. “In this case, I went to see Keith in person because they were looking at so many installations. That way, I was able to make sure everything was complete and in order.”

When all was said and done, the Ste. Genevieve School District received over $5,500 in lighting incentives. And that’s only the beginning of their returns: comparing this February’s electric bill to last year’s, the school district saw a savings of $2,300. That in itself would be great, but once you consider that the school has built a whole new Performing Arts Center and added on to both its elementary schools, the result is phenomenal.

“Adding the extra buildings, I expected the cost to go up,” Keith said, “but we’ve actually seen energy costs go down.”

The school district has calculated its payback to be three years—in part because schools receive an additional incentive not available to other commercial or residential customers. Any school within one of POWER MOVES member co-op areas may apply.

“Take advantage,” Keith advised. “It pays off.”