WJUSD board approves $3.1 million energy bundling project

The multi-million energy bundling deal between Winters Joint Unified School District and ABM Building Solutions, LLC will move forward after school board members passed a series of items at the board meeting June 20.
Graphic: Winters Express
Graphic: Winters Express

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The multi-million energy bundling deal between Winters Joint Unified School District and ABM Building Solutions, LLC will move forward after school board members passed a series of items at the board meeting June 20.

District staff brought three items before the board, which authorized ABM’s Option B, which will upgrade the districts lighting system, provide 39 new HVAC units and revitalize remaining units and weatherize all windows and doors. Option B will also provide specific renovations to the high school gymnasium, including a Cool Roof, HVAC and a hot water system for the locker room.

According to the proposal the $3.1 million project will pay for itself in the long term by modernizing infrastructure, increasing efficiency and mitigating risks over projected PG&E rate hikes. Trustees approved a private placement lease—a form of loan—to fund the project.

Board President Rob Warren and Trustee Carrie Green, who have been openly skeptical of the agreement, voted against all three items recommended by staff.

Green questioned whether the project will be as budget neutral as ABM claims.

“It’s only based on convenience, and it’s not very cost-effective. I think obligating the district for a 30-year loan for equipment that won’t last that long is not a good idea,” Green said.

Warren, who has questioned how labor and maintenance costs will affect the projected savings, maintained that the cost and nature of the loan were not as favorable as supporters said.

“We’re spending money that hasn’t been approved by the community—it’s been approved by us,” Warren said. “We’ve got a warning from the county saying this doesn’t look good, and because it’s one total package we don’t have comparable prices.”

Trustee Mike Olivas praised the district staff’s presentation and the board’s decision to move forward with the deal, and cited the need to replace the HVAC system.

“It’s a good framework to start and getting it all done by one company is the best thing we could get at this point,” Olivas said. “I think it is efficient as far as cost. We’re getting a loan for three percent, which is amazing.”

The approval of the project also waives the $28,700 study provided by ABM, authorized by the board in February 2019.

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