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Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Board seeks ways to save on utility bills

Wind, solar or combination being considered

By Margie Wuebker
MARIA STEIN - The Marion Local Schools board of education is considering the use of alternative energy sources - wind, solar or a combination of both - to stem the tide of rising utility costs at its buildings.
The district recently completed an energy-saving project that included a variety of upgrades, such as new heating and lighting controls and doors. The $398,830 cost will be recouped through annual energy savings of $52,385, school officials have said.
Those improvements would be compatible with alternative energy sources, according to NexGen Energy representative Glen Ginesi, who spoke at the Monday night board meeting.
The company has installed three wind turbines at Ohio Northern University in Ada, with a fourth scheduled for Ada High School, which is comparable in size to Marion Local.
Ginesi said NexGen would own any wind or solar equipment and assume responsibility for planning, engineering, construction, monitoring and maintenance. The school district then would purchase electricity from the company at a rate to be determined. Ginesi said the rate would be at least 10 percent less than Dayton Power & Light.
"The plan would be to use wind and/or solar first and then pull from DP&L lines," Ginesi said. "Usage would remain the same, but the costs would be less. The best case scenario is 60 to 65 percent wind/solar."
He also said a 10-year contract would set annual increases at 3.5 percent. He claimed utility company projections call for hikes of 8 percent or more.
According to Ginesi and Greg Smith of Engineered Process Systems, preliminary studies show the area is a good site for a wind turbine. However, there are tradeoffs - winds blow more in the winter and the sun shines more in the summer.
"It's great to be green, but it has to save you money," Ginesi said. "The use of alternative energy allows you to gain control of what is now uncontrollable."
The firm is in the process of preparing a cost analysis to give to the board later this month. If a decision is made to proceed, the next step would be to sign a letter of intent with a deposit of $12,000. Ginesi said the deposit would come back to the district in the form of credits toward future bills.
In other action, the board:
• Heard a presentation from Chuck Schwieterman, president of the Marion Athletic Boosters, regarding plans to install handicapped seating at the north end of the football stadium. The home side area would provide room for 10 wheelchairs plus companion seating. The group is awaiting another estimate before making a decision. The first home game is Aug. 27.
• Raised lunch prices by a dime to $1.35 for students in grades K-5, $1.60 for students in grades 6-12 and $2.10 for adults.
• Approved a one-year military leave of absence for high school social studies teacher Patrick Minnich. His Ohio National Guard unit has been called to active duty in Kuwait. The deployment runs through November 2011, and school officials are interviewing candidates for a long-term substitute.
• Reviewed results of the Ohio Graduation Tests for sophomores. Passage rates are: reading, 93 percent; writing and math, 100 percent; science, 96 percent; and social studies, 88 percent. Intervention and testing are taking place this week with Sue Bruns, Todd Ashbaugh and Paula Hemmelgarn serving as tutors.
• Endorsed an insurance package - auto, general liability and property/casualty - from Leugers Insurance of Maria Stein at a cost of $21,091. Coverage runs from July 1 through June 30, 2011.
• Accepted the resignations of Stan Wilker as athletic director/ticket manager and Laura Kaiser as physical education/health teacher. Wilker will assist in training his replacement on an as-needed basis.
• Reviewed open enrollment figures for the 2010-2011 school year showing an increase of one from the previous total of 42. The breakdown shows 32 students from Celina, four from New Bremen, one each from Minster and Anna and five from Versailles.
• Learned there are no major summer projects in the works with the focus being cleaning and maintenance.
• Reminded residents of the mandatory shutdown taking place June 27 through July 11 with all offices closed.
• Moved the date of the next meeting from July 12 to July 19 at 7:30 p.m.
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Additional online story on this date
GRAND LAKE - It's back.
Algae.
Motorists drove slowly along West Bank Road on Monday to look at the thick green coating on the lake's water and shoreline. [More]
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