Tax Neutral Energy Saving Lease Agreement Proposed

Wood chip boiler proposed for John Stark similar to one shown at Plymouth High.

The John Stark School Board has been at work for more than two years to determine the best way to update the John Stark High School infrastructure while keeping a close eye on the tax impact for residents of Henniker and Weare.  Article 5 on this year’s Warrant is the result of the Board’s research and study on how to best replace the heating system (originally installed in 1987) and increase energy efficiency throughout the building. The article would provide for installation of up to $2,288,690 of energy saving equipment, including a wood chip boiler, insulation and LED lighting, through a lease agreement that would be tax neutral. The lease would be paid for by the savings in oil and electricity costs that the District now incurs.

“The State is requiring us to replace the current oil lines to the oil tank this year,” said John Stark School Board Chair Zach Lawson. “When we looked at that cost, which is $55,000, and the fact that the boiler itself and oil tank are 31 years old, we knew we needed to look at the entirety of the building infrastructure.  It wouldn’t make sense for us to tear up the oil lines and replace them only to discover a year later that another fuel source would be the better way to go,” continued Chair Lawson.

After reviewing the options with a variety of companies, the Board decided that partnering with Energy Efficient Investments (EEI) and ENE Energy Advisors offered the best solution for John Stark.  The partnership will allow John Stark to pay for the energy infrastructure improvements for up to 20 years from the energy savings that the school will see annually. EEI guarantees these savings will be realized.

“It’s more than likely that the savings we will see in reduced energy costs from increased efficiencies will be greater than the $119,719 annual lease payment,” said Chair Lawson. “We may be able to pay off the lease early or make additional energy updates to the building.”

The concept of a lease payment and performance contract for energy projects in schools is not a new one. In fact EEI and ENE have recently completed similar projects in the Manchester, Portsmouth, Shaker Regional and Plymouth School Districts with great success.

“We are hoping for additional savings on this upgrade to the John Stark building as we have applied for State rebates as well,” commented Superintendent Dr. Lorraine Tacconi-Moore.

The Public Utilities Commission reviewed the school’s grant in February and will make its recommendations to the Executive Council after reviewing all submitted projects. It will then go to the Governor. “We won’t know until after the March 13 vote if we were successful in securing a State grant, so all figures presented for the project are based on receiving no grant money. Any grants received will mean even greater savings than we have projected,” she concluded.