School district crews spend the winter replacing 16,000 outdated light fixtures | VailDaily.com

School district crews spend the winter replacing 16,000 outdated light fixtures

EAGLE — The wonderful irony is that during the time of year when there's the least daylight, Eagle County Schools' facilities department was brightening up the place.

Crews retrofitted 16,000 interior light fixtures in nine schools, the district office and the transportation center during the dead of winter 2017. Aaron Sifuentes, Eagle County Schools facilities director, worked with Iconergy from Denver to finish the massive project in three months.

"The school principals and staff were very accommodating, letting us have access to the schools and being very understanding as we worked out some minor glitches," Sifuentes said.

By the numbers

By replacing old lighting with LED lights, the school district projects it will save more than 1.4 million kilowatt hours in 2018. That will save 16 percent on the district's electric bill.

That bill was $836,000 in 2017. Savings are projected to top $130,000 beginning in 2018, according to school district data.

Recommended Stories For You

Besides costing less to operate, the new lights are … well … lighter. Every light is attached to a dimmer and an occupancy sensor.

"Teachers really appreciate the ability to dim the lights in their classrooms, and it's nice to be able to dim lights in gymnasiums for presentations and such," Sifuentes said.

Leveraging every dollar

The school district tracked down grants and rebates to pay for it.

The district was awarded a $252,000 rebate from Holy Cross Energy, which was reinvested in the project.

A U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Program grant was good for another $80,000. That will be spent to retrofit the gymnasium at Battle Mountain High School in 2018.

Once that's done, Holy Cross Energy will rebate another $30,000.

"We came in under the $3.4 million budget on this project, utilizing just a fraction of our contingency," Sifuentes said. "We worked hard to negotiate an excellent price on some really nice fixtures. The rest of the contingency, as well as the grant and rebate money we received, will be invested in the Battle Mountain High School gymnasium lighting retrofit project, which will begin just as soon as we receive the fixtures."

What's next?

In addition to the Battle Mountain High School gymnasium upgrade, Sifuentes and team will begin work retrofitting more than 200 parking lot and exterior lights.

"While this lighting retrofit project may not be the most noticeable change to take place with the bond dollars the voters approved, these lights are an incredible upgrade for our buildings, a huge cost saving over time and really nice for our students," Sifuentes said.

The lighting upgrades are all part of the voter-approved bond projects

The overall numbers run like this:

• $131.77 million in bonds were sold for school projects up and down the valley ($230 million total with interest).

• Those bond sales generated an additional $22,332,115, which will also be spent on those projects.

• That means the school district has $154,102,115 to spend, instead of the $144 million it thought it was going to have.

• $125 million is being spent on construction through the school openings in September.

• $120 million of that is under contract. That means it's either under construction or has been completed. If it's under construction, then it's scheduled for completion by November 2018.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Bond bucks

As part of Eagle County Schools’ bond projects, the school district’s facilities replaced 16,000 light fixtures in nine schools:

LED cost: $1,211,760.90

Grant: ($235,000)

Net cost: $976,760.90

Cost savings: $143,837 per year

Simple payback: 6.79 years

For more information and updates on the school district’s bond and mill levy funded projects, visit http://www.eagleschools.net.