Alabama Power, BOE partner for potential energy improvements

Published 11:42 am Wednesday, April 19, 2023

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By JOYANNA LOVE |Managing Editor

Alabama Power and the Chilton County Board of Education are partnering to pursue a Renew America’s Schools grant for energy efficiency upgrades.

Danielle Crowder of Alabama Power presented information about the partnership during the April 18 BOE meeting.

“Alabama Power is really excited to partner (with the school system),” Crowder said. “This grant program focuses on rural, disadvantaged communities, (those) school systems that have a high percentage of students that are eligible for free and reduced lunch.”

Renew America’s Schools is a grant program through the U.S. Department of Energy. The funding is specifically for energy efficiency improvements and addressing building-related health issues. At the national level, $80 million will be distributed in this funding cycle.

The local grant application is for $1.784 million with 5% of this required to be paid by a local entity. Crowder said Alabama Power would pay this $89,220 initially, and have a contract with the school system to pay it back through the money saved from energy efficiency upgrades.

“By partnering with Alabama Power, we are going to manage this project,” Crowder said. “… We will also provide the compliance support with the Department of Energy.”

This grant would replace all of the lights at Clanton and Jemison elementary schools as well as Maplesville High School with LED bulbs.

“This will reduce the energy uses at these schools by about 20%,” Crowder said.

She stated that Chilton County Schools maintenance supervisor Freddy Smith has estimated this would translate to $20,000 in savings each year.

“Alabama Power has 30 years of experience doing these types of projects,” Crowder said. “… Alabama Power will not make any profit on this project. That is part of the DOE requirement for the funding, a subrecipient of the funds cannot make a profit. Really, we are just here to try to help get these funds into the state of Alabama, into these school systems that are in high need and help you do what is best for your school, your students and teachers.”

Crowder said the initial concept application was submitted by the January deadline, and the full application is due April 21. Those being awarded grants will be notified by June 15.

Board president Pam Price asked if funding could be applied for in the future for LED upgrades at other schools. Crowder confirmed other funding will be available through this program in the future. Board member Jacqueline Sullivan asked if getting hot water in a school’s bathrooms would be an eligible project for the grant. Crowder said that it would be.

If the grant is awarded, the board of education will have to approve the project contract. The actual work would be done when school is not in session.