Audits Confirm Savings from Energy Efficiency Improvements at Long Island School Districts
(Long Island, NY) On Friday, February 19th, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli spoke before the Clean Energy Leadership Task Force which is a project directed by the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College located at Republic Airport in Farmingdale NY. Mr. DiNapoli discussed the results of audits that his office completed of Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs) entered into by five Long Island school districts, as well as the investment strategy that has been developed for New York State’s pension fund.
Under EPCs, third-party energy service companies make energy saving upgrades or changes to operations, guarantee savings on energy bills, and are paid out of those savings.
The audits performed by the Comptroller’s office used the energy performance in the year following the work done under the EPCs to estimate the projected net savings for the school districts.
“The audits found that all of the districts were realizing significant energy savings, both reducing environmental impacts and helping to hold down operating costs for taxpayers.” Mr. DiNapoli said. The report found that the projected savings for school districts range between $66,0000 and $3.3 million dollars. “My auditors made recommendations to help officials better manage energy performance contracts to ensure that they are receiving the greatest possible savings.”
The school districts that were the subjects of the audits were:
- Island Trees Union Free School District
- Middle Country Central School District
- Sachem Central School District
- Manhasset Union Free School District
- Half Hollow Hills Central School District
The report on the audits is available at http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/swr/2015/epc/global.htm.
When speaking about the State’s pension fund, Mr. DiNapoli stated that the goal was for long-term, sustainable economic growth. He argued that environment and global warming have implications for the bottom line and present risks that must be managed by prudent companies. He noted that companies with better sustainability practices perform better in the long run. Using its power as the third largest public pension fund in the U.S., New York State has been pushing corporations towards better corporate governance and long-term thinking concerning sustainability. The Comptroller’s office had developed and invested $2 billion in a new custom low-emission index of companies with low carbon footprints. In addition, the office is doubling its investment in clean energy and other green investments, for a total of $5 billion in green investments. These efforts resulted in Mr. DiNapoli being invited to participate in the historic U.N. conference on climate change held in Paris this past December, to discuss investment strategies to address global warming.
“My office has adopted its own best practices, in order to lead by example.” Mr. DiNapoli told the group, noting that the headquarters of the Comptroller’s office has an energy audit last year“ Our headquarters underwent an energy audit last year. “Even though that building is Energy Star certified, we were able to identify cost effective energy saving measures that when fully implemented will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 90 tons a year and reduce operating costs by approximately $36,000 a year.” He encouraged the local governments who attend the Task Force to take advantage of ‘turn key’ programs from the New York Power Authority, or EPCs that provide guaranteed savings, to reduce their own energy consumption. Mr. DiNapoli said, “School district and municipal budgets are under stress and our leaders in these institutions are challenged to find creative ways to fund crucial services.”
Neal Lewis, the executive director of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, pointed out that the Task Force’s motto is ‘Leading by Example’. “This may be the first time a Comptroller has evaluated actual savings from energy efficiency through post-project performance. The results of these audits show that all local governments should be saving taxpayer dollars by adopting energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said Mr. Lewis. “By letting people know about the success of these energy improvements, government can show businesses and homeowners that clean energy really works and can save them money too.”
Mr. Lewis pointed out that the Sustainability Institute is currently organizing a program in which it is partnering with 5 town governments on Long Island to encourage homeowners to take advantage of NY State programs to encourage home energy efficiency improvements. The Long Island Green Homes Initiative helps Long Island homeowners take advantage of incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), that generate energy savings while stimulating local jobs, boosting economic development, promoting sustainability and protecting the environment. Long Island Green Homes makes the process simple by providing specially trained “Energy Navigators” who advise homeowners by phone and guide them through each step.
The Clean Energy Leadership Task Force is a project of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College. The Task Force which has been meeting since 2004, holds half-day conferences four times a year, where elected officials and staff of local governments gather with energy service professionals to learn and share information about the latest developments in energy efficiency and renewable energy technology and policy.