EBOE hears money saving plan

A way to save money on power bills was presented to the Enterprise Board of Education at a meeting May 14.

Enterprise City Schools Chief Financial Officer Brian Stewart introduced Ron Hoffman from Utility Management System, a 20-year-old utility billing company headquartered in Wilmington, N.C. that works with more than 10,000 organizations and cumulatively saved those companies over $100 million.

“For the past couple of months we’ve been looking at ways of saving the system some money and I think he’s got a unique perspective because we don’t have to do anything and there is no cost to us,” Stewart explained.

Hoffman said that he realized that ECS had done an energy audit in the recent past but said that many businesses are surprised to learn that there are rate options with the power provider.

“For Alabama Power, this is the rate schedule,” Hoffman said, flipping through a thick book. “There are a lot of rates in this book and there’s a lot of detail and a lot of complexity.”

Hoffman said that after ECS contracts with Utility Management System for a four-year period, UMS contacts Alabama Power on the school system’s behalf and pulls 36 months of data on every meter.

“That’s not just monthly figures but hourly figures,” Hoffman said. “We’re looking at usage patterns on a day-by-day basis.”

Hoffman said that UMS certified energy auditors examine the data for eligible opt-outs and exemptions. Auditors look for opt-outs, exemptions and any potential rebates and create a comprehensive report for the EBOE.

Hoffman said that at that point there are two possible scenarios. One is that ECS is already getting the best rates. “We will keep monitoring on a quarterly basis in case that changes because (Alabama Power) does add to this rate book on a quarterly basis and if that happens, there is no cost to the school board at all.”

The second scenario is that UMS finds several meters that could be optimized to save money. “We’re going to have a detailed schedule of that and we take the past 12 months as an indication of your usage,” Hoffman said. “Based on some proposed changes, we’re going to estimate savings in a dollar amount and if we find those savings, we split that with the school board for a four year period.

“If you don’t like the changes we suggest, you don’t have to go through with that,” Hoffman said.

“I liked their approach,” Stewart added. “There are other energy management companies that will come to save you money, do a calculation and show you how much they saved you,” Stewart said. “But the calculations they come up with are figures that can’t be nailed down.

“With (Hoffman’s) company, he is going to show you your usage, what you are going to pay under the new plan and what you would have paid under the old plan,” Stewart said. “And that savings is what he is talking about.”

Stewart said he had included ECS Maintenance Supervisor Matt Routley, ECS Purchasing Clerk Aaron Jones and ECS Facilities Engineer Justin Hope in the meeting with Hoffman. “We all felt it was a no- brainer,” Stewart said to the EBOE before they voted unanimously to contract with UMS. “It’s pretty beneficial to Enterprise and I can only see an upside to it.”

The next meeting of the EBOE is June 25 at the central office on Hutchinson Street. A work session begins at 5 p.m. and a voting meeting begins at 6 p.m.

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