School board hires energy manager

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School Board will hire a new energy manager at a salary of $100k, for one year.

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School Board will hire a new energy manager, with a mandate to reduce the district’s hydro consumption and its $2.63 million in utility bills.

School board chairman Mike Murray explained the position is being created for a one-year trial, with subsequent years dependent on results.

B.C. Hydro will share in the cost of hiring the energy manager, so the cost to the district will be in the  $25,000-$50,000 range, said secretary-treasurer Flavia Coughlan. The position is budgeted for $100,000 in salary and benefits, and Hydro will pay a maximum of 75 per cent. The utility company will pay 50 per cent, with bonus funding of $25,000 depending on performance.

Hydro has increased its electricity rates and the annual cost to the board will be an estimated $85,000 per year.

Coughlan noted the board has hired consultants to look for energy savings. She pointed to Thomas Haney secondary and Websters Corners elementary as two schools where energy savings can be had, calling them “low-hanging fruit.”

The combined projects will cost approximately $550,000, but about $200,000 may be available in grants through BC Hydro incentive programs. Then, in future years, the projects will give the board $93,000 per year in energy savings.

District-wide, the board has identified potential energy savings of 4.42 million kilowatt hours, which would save the district $380,000 per year.

The cost of all of the energy upgrades would be $4 million, and take four years, so the district would recuperate its investment in more than 10 years.

Coughlan said there would be about 30 projects for the energy manager to oversee, and noted each brings a lot of paperwork.

She advised trusttees that in 2009 the board signed the B.C. Climate Action Charter, with a mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The board currently pays about $100,000 per year in carbon taxes.

An energy management program for the district is being developed. The primary opportunities for efficiency gains are:

Lighting retrofits;

Heating, ventilating and air conditioning;

Operating and maintenance practices.

The board also approved the use of up to $200,000 from its local capital fund for conservation projects.