VENTNOR – The Board of Education Wednesday, Sept. 26, unanimously approved a shared services agreement with the City of Ventnor, Margate City, Margate Board of Education and the Atlantic County Improvement Authority to make energy savings improvements at public buildings.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities created the Energy Savings Improvement Program to provide government agencies with a way to improve and reduce energy usage without expending financial resources.

The agreement will allow the participants to collectively issue a request for proposals from qualified energy services companies to perform “an investment grade audit” of all buildings and provide a “menu” of improvements that can be funded through energy savings, according to planner and grant writer James Rutala of Rutala Associates of Linwood who is facilitating the collaboration.

The City of Ventnor is the lead agency in the agreement. The ACIA will provide funding to complete projects and the agencies will pay their fair share of the cost of any projects through energy savings.

The company selected would do all bidding and construction management for any projects that are completed, he said.

“They make it happen,” Rutala said in a telephone interview Thursday morning.

“Energy savings is the last thing most boards think of,” Rutala said. “The plan anticipates those needs.”

The projects could include projects such as upgrading LED lighting, “which could provide the biggest savings,” he said.

Similar collaborative energy savings plans have been performed in Cape May, Atlantic City and in Hamilton Township, where projected energy savings has reduced the dollar amount of its upcoming bond referendum, Rutala said.

Board President James Pacanowski, who was among the board members who initially had reservations about the collaboration because it could cost the district money, said the district already has some energy improvements in its five-year plan, which the city agreed to fund through a bond ordinance approved earlier this year.

“All the HVAC stuff on our five-year will probably be addressed during this energy study,” Pacanowski said.

The Ventnor school district has also discussed the possibility of erecting a solar canopy over the parking lot at the rear of the school, an area that is controlled by Green Acres open space regulations. Once Green Acres issues are resolved, the district can consider moving forward with the solar project.

The energy savings plan that is developed will have to pass the muster of a third party reviewer and the BPU.

“It’s a process,” Rutala said. “Even though the plan is presented, the agency does not have to commit.”

All the other entities have approved resolutions supporting the agreement.

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.