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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.784

Introduced by Representatives Peltz of Woodbury, Barnard of Richmond, Botzow of Pownal, Chen of Mendon, Clark of Vergennes, Clarkson of Woodstock, Donovan of Burlington, Dostis of Waterbury, Fitzgerald of St. Albans City, Gilbert of Fairfax, Godin of Milton, Jewett of Ripton, Kilmartin of Newport City, Klein of East Montpelier, Ancel of Calais, Leriche of Hardwick, Malcolm of Pawlet, Martin of Wolcott, McDonald of Berlin, Mook of Bennington, Oxholm of Vergennes, Potter of Clarendon, Trombley of Grand Isle and Westman of Cambridge

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Education; energy conservation

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to reduce energy consumption in Vermont schools through three initiatives:  (1) a school energy retrofit program through which financial incentives are awarded to school districts to analyze and install comprehensive, cost-effective energy retrofits for school buildings; (2) a facility operating plan initiative in which an energy management specialist and Vermont school facility managers create a template outlining proper management of school energy systems, which is then tested and improved by volunteer school districts and customized to individual school needs and completed for every school in Vermont; and (3) a regional facility management pilot project in which a consortium of supervisory unions jointly employs an expert in school energy systems to support the most energy efficient management of school buildings and facilities within the consortium.

AN ACT RELATING TO ENERGY CONSERVATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds:

(1)  When school buildings become more energy-efficient, they reduce both operational costs and greenhouse gas emissions.  In addition, school buildings with efficient and well-maintained mechanical and electrical systems provide a healthier environment for students and staff and are more conducive to learning.

(2)  Cost-effective energy projects can be difficult to implement and are often delayed due to competing demands on a school district’s resources.

(3)  Most schools do not have written documentation outlining proper operation of the building’s energy systems.  This deficiency is compounded by the turnover among staff who maintain the systems.  The loss of institutional memory combined with the lack of written documentation make it difficult to maintain efficient-energy management.

(4)  Smaller schools often cannot attract staff with the level of expertise needed to manage properly the building’s energy systems.  As a result, these schools sometimes hire a person who lacks expertise in energy management or hire a person whose overall skills exceed those required for many of the tasks assigned to the position.

Sec. 2.  SCHOOL ENERGY RETROFIT PROGRAM

(a)  The department of education, in coordination with the  department of public service and the Vermont superintendents association’s school energy management program, shall design and implement a school energy retrofit program by which financial incentives are awarded to school districts to determine the need for and to install comprehensive, cost-effective energy retrofits for school buildings. 

(b)  When designing the program, the department shall:

(1)  Identify the types of projects and related criteria, including

cost-effectiveness, that are necessary to qualify a proposal for participation in the program.  Cost-effectiveness shall be based on the net project cost after third-party incentives are provided to maximize energy conservation while being fiscally prudent.  If a proposed project saves energy but the savings do not justify program approval for the entire project, the portion of the capital cost justified by the energy savings may be approved for participation in the program. 

(2)  Ensure training and special certification of engineers who demonstrate a high level of knowledge about the types of projects and related criteria necessary for participation in the program (“certified contractor”). 

(3)  Design a process consistent with subsection (c) of this section by which a school district analyzes, selects, and implements a retrofit project and applies for approval to participate in the program.

(4)  Ensure comprehensive review of a school district’s application to determine if the proposed project meets program requirements.

(5)  Create a process by which the department will award incentives to school districts participating in the program.  An incentive shall be an offsetting energy grant equal to 50 percent of the debt service cost for the project.  Incentives shall be awarded only after a satisfactory final review of the completed project pursuant to criteria established by the department.

(6)  Ensure that proposed project savings equal or exceed incentives on a life-cycle cost basis. 

(c)  A school district interested in participating in the program shall:

(1)  Hire, at the district’s expense, a certified contractor to determine which potential projects or portions of potential projects meet departmental criteria for inclusion in the program.

(2)  Determine the nature and scope of the project it wishes to pursue, apply to the department for inclusion in the program, manage installation or other implementation of the approved project, and finance all project costs, including the final review required prior to the award of incentives.

Sec. 3.  FACILITY OPERATING PLAN INITIATIVE

(a)  The commissioner of education shall enter into a contract with an energy management consultant who will convene and serve as chair of a working group of no fewer than six Vermont school facility managers to create a template outlining proper management of school energy systems.  The template shall be complete by January 1, 2009. 

(b)  The working group shall solicit and select no fewer than 25 schools that are interested in using the template on a trial basis between January 1 and June 30, 2009 and are willing to provide comments and suggestions for improvements to the template.  The consultant shall provide training to the interested schools regarding use of the template. 

(c)  The working group shall reconvene as necessary to review the schools’ suggestions and shall provide an improved template to all public schools in Vermont.  The consultant shall assist the school facility manager in each public school to customize the template for the specific facility.  A customized energy management plan shall be in place for each public school in Vermont by June 30, 2011.


Sec. 4.  REGIONAL FACILITY MANAGEMENT PILOT PROJECT

On or before January 1, 2009, the department of education, with the assistance of an appropriate contractor, shall design and implement a regional facility management pilot project in which a consortium of no fewer than three supervisory unions establishes a framework by which the supervisory unions jointly hire an expert in school energy systems to oversee the management of all school energy systems within the consortium.  

Sec. 5.  APPROPRIATIONS

The following sums are appropriated to the department of education from the general fund for purpose of funding the initiatives of this act:

(1)  $75,000.00 in connection with the school energy retrofit program established in Sec. 2 of this act, to be used to establish the program, train and certify engineers, and arrange for oversight of the review process.  

(2)  $150,000.00 to implement the facility operating plan initiative established in Sec. 3 of this act over the next three years.

(3)  $60,000.00 to implement the regional facility management pilot project  established in Sec. 4 of this act, which shall include $40,000.00 in partial payment of the regional school energy systems manager’s salary.

Sec. 6.  REPORTS

In January 2009 and January 2010, the commissioner of education shall report to the house and senate committees on education regarding the progress made toward full implementation of the three initiatives established by this act.  On or before January 15, 2011, the commissioner shall report to those committees regarding the  full implementation of the three initiatives.

Sec. 7.  EFFECTIVE DATES

This act shall take effect on passage.  Incentives under the school energy retrofit program established in Sec. 2 of this act shall be available for projects applying on or after January 1, 2009 to participate in the program. 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us