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Cenergistic-Cherokee County Schools partnership continues to pay off

The partnership between Cenergistic and the Cherokee County School System continues to pay off! Since 2014, Cherokee County Schools have saved more than $300,000 in energy costs and cut their kilowatt hour usage in half.

The partnership between Cenergistic and the Cherokee County School System continues to pay off! Since 2014, Cherokee County Schools have saved more than $300,000 in energy costs and cut their kilowatt hour usage in half.

Russell Jacoway, local Cenergistic liaison for Cherokee County Schools, shared the latest figures during the Tuesday, April 4 meeting of the Cherokee County Board of Education.

“I do appreciate you allowing me to be here tonight,” said Jacoway. “It has been a while since I spoke to the board. I think shortly after we started this program I just wanted to give you a little update on the progress and success of the program and kind of where the program is headed.”

Jacoway shared with Superintendent Mitchell Guice and board members a graph of the Cherokee County School System’s electrical usage since the partnership with Cenergistic began in 2014.

“Electrical is 82.4 percent of our utility bill,” said Jacoway. “You can see huge drops since 2014 when we started this. This past January was an extraordinary month as far as usage of electricity in our county.”

Jacoway’s report included the cumulative greenhouse reduction the Cherokee County School System has realized since partnering with Cenergistic.

“It shows that our school system is doing its part to help protect the environment,” said Jacoway. “As we cut energy we are also cutting a lot of our emissions, and things of that nature and doing our part to help.”

Jacoway compared the “raw dollar figures” (in savings) for 2016 as compared to 2015.

“Most months, percentage wise, went up,” said Jacoway. “When you get into 20 percent with our people that is considered very good. When we hit 30 percent, which is what we are doing a lot of the time, that is like the gold standard. I love going to conferences with our company and saying we have a 30 percent program because not a lot of them are. We have far exceeded expectations there.”

In January of this year, Jacoway said, the Cherokee County School System hit 31.6 percent, a significant increase over last year’s 22.3 percent.

“As a coach I look at these numbers and these are kind of like my scoreboard every month when they come out,” said Jacoway.

Jacoway shared the meaning of the term cost avoidance, which is the cost of energy not used.

“If the cost avoidance for a month was $40,000, this would represent a savings of $40,000 for what you would have paid in utilities for that month had you used the energy at the same rate as 2014 and paying today’s prices for it,” said Jacoway.

“The first four months of the program in 2015, there was no charge,” Jacoway explained. “Even though there was a savings those first four months of $44,424. We don’t claim savings for reduced maintenance on HVAC equipment and I spend a lot of time with the maintenance crew. They have been very pleased with the reduced maintenance that we have had. We are not running 24/7 any more. There has been a big reduction in our maintenance on HVAC equipment.”

“The bottom line for 2015, you can see, I put the raw numbers, subtracted our fees,” said Jacoway. “We had a cost avoidance savings in 2015 of $145,323. Our company matrix, when they sold the contract to the school system, had predicted a savings of $110,350 so we well exceeded that in 2015. In 2016, we had a savings to the board of $211,924. Our company had predicted a savings in the second year of $133,350. So we have far exceeded what was predicted.”

“There is still work to be done,” said Jacoway. “umber One, the company has provided a lot of support. People see me all the time. I keep a running tally when we have engineers, consultants, people who come in. The first year we flew a bunch of people in to work on a lot of different systems. We have had 53 visits by 12 different consultants in and out of this county since this program started. My program supervisor, Derek Johnston, comes at least once if not twice a month and Cindy Walker, our data person, comes in at least once a month. She checks my numbers behind me, just to make sure everything is where it needs to be.”

“I have got to thank the maintenance department,” said Jacoway. “Our maintenance department has been great to work with. In a lot of places they kind of have problems with this program, maybe they don’t get along with maintenance, but maintenance has been very agreeable and we have gotten a lot of repairs done and fixing things that needed to be done.”

Jacoway extended appreciation to Robin Cunningham, custodian of funds for Cherokee County Schools and also Phyllis Lambert who provides him with the bills each month.

“Our principals, assistant principals, Mr. Guice have been really good,” said Jacoway. “There are times when if I have a problem in a school I need somebody to back me up and the principals have been real good to make sure that happens and of course there are our teachers and staff.”

“This is a team thing, it is not a me thing, it is not all our company,” said Jacoway. “Our administrators, teachers, staff have been great to work with and for the most part our teachers have really, really bought into this. We have a lot of teachers in a lot of buildings that have kind of taken it on themselves to make sure things are getting shut down. We have a lot of teachers who have taken a lot of initiative to get things turned off and I know the schools are really appreciative of the money coming back they have been able to spend in their schools.”

And while they have made significant progress things remain to be done, Jacoway said.

“We are still finding things and getting better at this month by month,” said Jacoway. “Every shut down we do it seems like it gets better. The last shut down we did was for spring break last week. I had two perfect schools I couldn’t find a thing on. When we have a shutdown I will start on Friday night and audit every classroom in the system and usually finish on Sunday morning. What I would consider a bad audit now would have been a great audit two years ago. I can’t thank everybody in our schools enough for their cooperation.”

In January of 2014, Jacoway reported, the Cherokee County School System used 667,448 kilowatt hours of electricity and in 2015 reduced that amount down to 603,210 kilowatt hours.

“In 2016, we were down to 461,075 kilowatt hours and just this past January, our system, as a whole, used 324,710 kilowatt hours. less than half where we started,” said Jacoway.

“That wouldn’t happen if people weren’t really getting behind this thing and doing what they need to do in the schools,” said Jacoway. “A lot of things were running 24 7 and our teachers have now gotten very conscientious. We have a lot of manual systems where I have to depend on the teachers to set it back or cut it off at night and they do a great job.”

Jacoway said he continues to work with school maintenance crews on other areas for savings.

“I enjoy talking about this,” said Jacoway. “I really, really love my job.”

ENERGY SAVINGS CONTINUE IN CHEROKEE. Russell Jacoway, local liaison for Cenergistic, shares the latest energy savings figures for Cherokee County Schools during a recent meeting of the Cherokee County Board of Education. Since 2014, Jacoway said, the Cherokee County School System has realized more than $300,000 in energy savings and has cut kilowatt hour usage in half.

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