Energy Works Michigan Gets $4.4 Million Deal With MPSC

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Energy Works Michigan, a project of the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, will promote energy efficiency and assist in the installation of solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, and wind systems in ninety Michigan schools during the next three years.

The Michigan Renewable Schools Program, operated by Energy Works, assisted in the installation of 30 renewable energy systems at 24 school districts in 2009 and 2010, generating over 40,000 kilowatt-hours of emission-free solar and wind power. 

Another 40 school districts received energy audits and technical assistance in implementing actions to reduce costs and increase energy efficiency, including improved lighting and more efficient heating and cooling.

The upcoming expansion of Energy Works services, which will include renewable energy assistance for colleges and universities for the first time, will be made possible by a $4.4 million contract with the Michigan Public Service Commission, initially approved in November and signed in January by Energy Works and the MPSC.

All Michigan schools are eligible to participate, including public, private, parochial and post-secondary institutions.  

“We’re saving money for schools, creating an enhanced learning environment for students and teachers, and preparing Michigan students for the green jobs of the future,” said Emile Lauzzana, director of Energy Works. “This program helps Michigan schools now, by cutting energy costs and freeing up resources for classroom instruction; it will help our state in the future, by giving Michigan high school and college students with the skills and training they need to participate in emerging renewable energy industries.”

MPSC Chairman Orjiakor Isiogu said the contract with Energy Works “will provide schools throughout the state the opportunity to take advantage of existing programs that encourage installation of the most economical and practical renewable energy systems and energy efficiency measures, and associated educational opportunities for students, faculty, staff and the general public.”

Solar and wind installations supported by the Michigan Renewable School Program have already produced over 43,000 kwh of electricity, enough to offset over 63,000 miles worth of carbon emissions from automobiles. Real-time tracking of electricity production and carbon offsets is available at http://energyworksmichigan.powerdash.com/home/.

At the South Lyon school district, which conducted an efficiency audit with assistance from Energy Works in 2010, the program “is helping to achieve our goal, to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Shun Smith, operations supervisor for the district. South Lyon schools are installing new energy efficient lighting and motion sensors, and also taking steps to harvest daylight in school buildings.

Curriculum and teaching aids provided by Energy Works, said Smith, are helping educate teachers and students about the costs of generating and consuming energy – and the potential for savings.

“The education portion alone is huge,” said Smith. “Our students and our staff, they are definitely responding. People want to be green; people want to do everything possible. If we’re paying for energy we don’t need, that could be costing somebody their job.”

During the next three years, Energy Works will assist 90 schools, including colleges and universities, and provide a post-secondary education program to inform high school students about training opportunities in the growing fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The suite of programs offered by Energy Works includes:

* Renewable Energy: Technical and financial assistance for renewable energy installations, including solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, wind power installations, and geothermal feasibility studies.
* Energy Efficiency:  Energy efficiency audits and technical and financial assistance to implement improvements in school buildings.
* K-12 Educational Resources and Training: Curriculum development and teacher training, aligned with the State of Michigan’s Grade Level Content Expectations, including lesson plans on energy efficiency, solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, wind, and geothermal energy.
* Post-secondary education:  Education and training partnerships with Michigan community colleges, junior colleges and universities.
* Teacher and Student Led Green Initiatives:  Classroom grants and contests to support classroom lessons and student projects on electricity generation, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

School officials who are interested in participating in any of the above programs can contact Energy Works at info@EnergyWorksMichigan.org, (734) 369-9699, or download an application.

Energy Works Michigan, www.EnergyWorksMichigan.org, is a non-profit technical resource center helping to build foundational capacities in the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. The organization was launched in 2009 by partner non-profit corporations Recycle Ann Arbor, The Ecology Center, and Clean Energy Associates.

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