The Union School Board has taken another step toward cutting energy usage and creating plans for upgrading and maintaining the district’s facilities.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Mabe told the board Wednesday night that based on references, previous positive experiences and plans for upgrading and maintaining district buildings, St. Louis-based Control Technology Solutions (CTS) would be the district’s best option.

“Based on the experience, references and the fact that we do have some systems already in place that we are very happy with I would make a recommendation to go with CTS as that guaranteed energy savings contract provider,” Mabe said.

For the last two months, two companies vied for the district’s business. CTS and Siemens, pitched similar plans with different approaches and additions. Both CTS and Siemens are National Association of Energy Saving Companies approved.

“Ultimately, we’re looking for a company to partner with on the energy savings side of things, but also somebody to collaborate with the district to create that comprehensive high quality cost effective approach to basically improve our infrastructure when it comes to energy,” Mabe said.

The companies boast the same promise on utilities: guaranteed savings on energy costs or the company will pay the difference. That means, if the school district were to spend more than CTS had projected, a check would be made out paying the difference.

Unanimous Approval

The board unanimously approved moving forward with CTS after some explanation as to what signing a contract with the company would mean.

Board member Valerie Steinbeck said she is not completely sold on the idea of using an energy company and asked if signing the letter of intent locked the district into any financial agreements.

“I’m not yet convinced that is the right thing to do,” Steinbeck said.

The agreement, Mabe and Board President Virgil Weideman explained, will not lock the school district into any concrete agreement on projects. The letter of intent, Weideman said, would not cost the district anything and usage of CTS’s services would be on a project-by-project basis.

Possible Projects

In their presentation in January, CTS representatives identified 11 of the district’s 17 heating and cooling units that may need to be replaced in the next one to five years.

The cost of many of the possible replacements to the district’s buildings could be offset by Ameren UE’s rebate program, CTS Managing Partner Bob Bennett said.

One example of savings Bennett and his group presented would be in Union High School’s gymnasium, a room Bennett said could be lit with energy-saving LED lights. He said the room could be lit with less light fixtures if the LEDs were used.

That, along with any other future projects, will be brought before the board in each individual instance for approval.