School board continues plans for critically needed energy upgrades

School board continues plans for

critically needed energy upgrades

Daniela Vazquez

Staff writer

Jan. 26, 2017

MT. PLEASANT—The energy upgrades planned by the North Sanpete School District are steadily moving closer to realization.

Eric Thatcher, senior sales executive of Siemens, an energy-efficient technologies company, stood before the board at a regular board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 17 to provide the board with the monthly update on the funding process and the progress of the third-party review team of engineers.

“There are a lot of pieces coming together,” Thatcher said. “You know, you get to this point in a process with a project like this and you can kind of feel [it] trying to happen.”

Thatcher said they are exploring various financing routes.

According to Thatcher, one of those options was through a zero-interest Utah School Board Education (USBE) loan.

Another option is through a federally guaranteed loan called Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB), a loan offered to districts with a higher percentage of students on assisted lunch; a requirement the district meets.

Siemens has already begun the qualification process for the QZAB.

“In the background of all of this, we have our little department, Siemens, working with the [governor’s energy office] on the [energy efficient] contract that would need to be signed in order to move forward,” Thatcher said.

A potential hangup in the QZAB approval is the requirement that NSSD come up with  10 percent of the $5.9 million cost

However, with the help of a Rocky Mountain Power Blue Sky grant, which the district has applied for, the 10 percent could be covered. Last month, the district applied for a $1 million Blue Sky grant to cover solar energy panels and installation at three of the district’s schools.

But after PacifiCorp, a parent company to Rocky Mountain Power, reviewed the application, they asked district leaders to lower the amount to $550,000 and include only one school on the application because the amount was “too high.”

District officials have made the requested revisions and have resubmitted the application.             While the application is still under review, Thatcher says Rocky Mountain Power will hopefully offer the district 75 percent of the solar panel and installation cost, a total of $576,000, enough to cover the 10 percent down required by Zion’s Bank for their loan option.

The final word on the Blue Sky grant should be released by mid-February, according to Thatcher.

The third-party review team, Jones and Demille, is scheduled to complete their review of the proposed project by the end of the week, and when done, the board will be required to vote on the project’s approval so the district can continue to pursue the best possible financing.

“Things are kind of going up and down with funding from Rocky Mountain Power and all the different pieces, but it’s looking pretty good, so I think it’ll keep moving forward. Just be patient,” Thatcher said.

District leaders say they hope to begin construction on the project this summer.

In other news, Shalmarie Morley of Moroni has taken the oath of office and was sworn in by Johansen, replacing Nanalee Cook’s vacated seat on the board. Incumbent Stacey Goble also began a new term on the board.

Existing Vice President Greg Bailey will now serve as board president, a position held by Richard Brotherson, who will now serve as vice president.

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