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Editorial: Tracking data on energy use pays dividend

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THANKS to a $67,000 grant from Hoosier Energy Rural Cooperative Inc., the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. has been able to make a long-range investment in the future.

Armed with that grant, administrators were able to purchase and install a solar heating system at Mt. Healthy Elementary School that is projected to save hundreds of dollars each week on energy usage.

In some respects it is a small step, but in the years to come it should produce ripple effects that will multiply those savings several times.

Equally important, those projected savings will be reflected in something much more transparent and defining than anecdotal reports. Constituents will be able to track actual usage of the new system and the corresponding savings through a link on the corporation’s website,

This easy access to information is one of the best tools a government body can use in demonstrating to taxpayers that their money is being used appropriately and in an effective manner.

For now, the benefits of this particular project are small when compared to the corporation’s overall project.

The installation at Mt. Healthy was possible because it was the only viable home for this particular project in that the previous system was 10 years old and the Hoosier Energy grant is available only to areas served by Bartholomew County REMC.

But if the system does provide savings and significantly reduces carbon emissions, the Mt. Healthy project could be a catalyst for expanding the program to other buildings in the corporation.

Being able to track and demonstrate the savings in both energy consumption and spending also could serve as a ripple effect in many other areas of both the public and private sectors.

The Mt. Healthy project is the latest effort in an overall goal by the school corporation to reduce consumption and increase savings. Total spending on energy by the corporation from July 2011 to June 2012 was $2.8 million, approximately $216,000 less than the previous year.

Those kinds of numbers offer convincing proof that energy conservation not only works but pays off in the end.

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