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ECPPS eyes LED lighting project

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Friday, November 23, 2018

El­iz­a­beth City-Pasquotank Public Schools of­fi­cials are con­sid­er­ing a pro­posal to covert all school fa­cil­i­ties to LED light­ing as a way to save money on en­ergy costs.

Chris Nel­son and Ted Vo­gel of He­lios En­ergy at­tended a com­mit­tee meet­ing of the El­iz­a­beth City-Pasquotank Board of Ed­u­ca­tion Mon­day af­ter­noon. He­lios has pro­posed a ser­vice con­tract al­low­ing it to in­stall and main­tain LED light­ing for some 1.2 mil­lion square feet of space at ECPPS fa­cil­i­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to its pro­posal, He­lios would cover the up­front costs of in­stalling the LED light­ing and then con­tract for main­tain­ing the light­ing over a des­ig­nated pe­riod — likely seven years. LED, or light-emit­ting diode, lights gen­er­ate as much as twice the amount of light for the same amount of en­ergy.

School board mem­bers agreed to dis­cuss hiring He­lios to perform an en­ergy au­dit of the district. The au­dit would cost $36,000, but Nel­son said it would be rolled into the to­tal project cost if the board agrees to a LED light­ing ser­vice con­tract with He­lios of five to seven years.

School of­fi­cials are still ex­plor­ing whether a re­quest for pro­pos­als or re­quest for qual­i­fi­ca­tions would be re­quired for the LED project.

An RFQ is a qual­i­fi­ca­tions-based se­lec­tion process. It is not a bid. It is a re­quest for firms to sub­mit their qual­i­fi­ca­tions to be con­sid­ered for a project.

An RFP is a more tra­di­tional bid­ding process that so­lic­its spe­cific, de­tailed pro­pos­als for the work that will be done and the price.

One or the other will be re­quired for the project. Re­gard­less of which process is fol­lowed, school of­fi­cials say work con­vert­ing school light­ing to LED could be­gin in early 2019 if the board votes next week to move the project for­ward.

Ac­cord­ing to Nel­son, the project would be paid for with en­ergy sav­ings. If the board agrees to a seven-year con­tract, for ex­am­ple, He­lios ex­pects the school dis­trict be­ing able to pay off the project’s costs in that time frame, he said.

“In year eight you start reap­ing all the sav­ings,” Nel­son said. “We want you to en­joy some sav­ings af­ter you’re done with the con­tract.”

Board mem­ber Barry Over­man, who re­cently was elected to the Pasquotank Board of Com­mis­sion­ers and was chair­ing his last com­mit­tee meet­ing for the school board, asked Nel­son about the time­line for the project. Nel­son said he ex­pects it would be com­pleted within 12 months but his goal would be even sooner.

Nel­son said the light­ing work would be sched­uled in such a way that it would not dis­rupt classes.

“It’s a part­ner­ship,” Nel­son said. “When you work with us, when we work with you, we see it as a part­ner­ship.”

Over­man asked If He­lios would use lo­cal con­trac­tors for part of the work. Nel­son said his firm would use lo­cal con­trac­tors as much as pos­si­ble.

Over­man said light­ing is the right place to start look­ing at sav­ings on util­i­ties costs be­cause 30 per­cent of elec­tric cost is light­ing.

An­drew Cox, ECPPS fi­nance di­rec­tor, and Frankie Floyd, dis­trict main­te­nance di­rec­tor, said He­lios wants to be­come a main­te­nance part­ner with the school dis­trict. Fol­low­ing the light­ing project, it might, for in­stance, pro­pose a project re­lated to heat­ing, ven­ti­la­tion and air con­di­tion­ing, they said.

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