School energy program gets $9 million boost
A partnership including the University of Louisville's Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center will receive federal stimulus money totaling more than $9 million to expand a school energy improvement program, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Feb. 8.
UofL President James Ramsey and KPPC Director Cam Metcalf joined Beshear in announcing the partnership in a news conference at Shepherdsville's Roby Elementary School.
Besides KPPC, the partners are the state Department for Energy Development and Independence and the Kentucky School Boards Association.
"At UofL we're proud of all our own green initiatives," Ramsey said. "We're also proud that, in these tough economic times, we can help Kentucky schools save money on their energy bills, money that will be poured back into educating kids."
The money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the U.S. Department of Energy will extend the Kentucky Energy Efficiency Program for Schools (KEEPS) by helping all 174 Kentucky school districts enroll. A 2008 state bill required all public school boards to enroll in KEEPS, which KPPC administers.
"Enrolling in the KEEPS program is an excellent way for our school districts to gain energy cost savings while also protecting the environment," Beshear said. "These energy savings help schools save valuable funds and teach children the importance of energy conservation."
"Becoming energy efficient in our homes, schools and businesses is one of the easiest ways for Kentucky to begin addressing how we impact our environment," he said.
Through KEEPS, the Frankfort-based school boards association will help districts hire energy managers who will use UofL's KPPC as a resource to understand how energy management can help achieve financial and environmental objectives. Energy managers also will help school districts set energy goals, track their progress and help develop school energy teams that include students, teachers, administrators and facility management employees.
KEEPS is designed to help achieve goals set in Beshear's previously announced energy strategy for Kentucky and will be part of the effort to meet 18 percent of the state's energy needs from efficiency improvements by 2025. It began as a pilot program in 2006.
A group of Roby fifth graders called the "Earth Team" also spoke at the news conference and explained how their school is using a geothermal system to heat and cool its building. That measure, they said, has helped the Bullitt County Public Schools save more than $500,000 in savings since 2007.
KPPC, a part of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, provides technical information and aid that is free, confidential and nonregulatory. The center serves the state's businesses, industries and other organizations through technical assessments that identify opportunities and recommend ways to reduce waste, water use and energy use.