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Valpo Community Schools moving ahead with energy saving projects

Valparaiso Community Schools

Energy savings projects are moving forward at Valparaiso Community Schools. The school board Thursday approved various agreements for a $5.8 million guaranteed savings contract.

That means the work will have to pay for itself over the next 20 years, or the contractor, Veregy, will have to pay the difference. The project should pay for itself and then some, according to Bob McKinney with construction manager Stratelign.

"Over the 20 years is a net-positive [roughly] $12 million savings, when you pay off the loan and the interest, apply the rebates, incentives and grant from the [Inflation Reduction Act] and then monetize the savings over the 20 years," McKinney explained.

The project includes solar panels at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School and Thomas Jefferson Middle School, new boilers at Thomas Jefferson Middle School and LED lighting in nine school buildings.

It will be financed through a lease/purchase agreement. Superintendent Dr. Jim McCall said that allows the school corporation to pay for the work without issuing additional bonds.

"It's really a win-win-win all the way around, while also decreasing our reliance on other energy," McCall said.

The public will be able to track energy savings through an online dashboard, which will also be incorporated into students' science curriculum. The lighting and mechanical work is expected to be done by the end of the year, with the rest of the work to be complete by September of 2024.