Archive for Friday, April 11, 2003

Program may spur energy upgrades

April 11, 2003

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— The 30-year-old main electrical switch at the Kansas University Medical Center is so old there are no parts available for it.

Thanks to a new state program, KU officials could get the switch replaced as part of $11.5 million in energy improvements, and it wouldn't cost them a cent.

"Given the current budget climate in the state, getting the state to finance that is a pretty gloomy prospect," said Ed Phillips, vice chancellor for administration.

KU will present its proposal for energy conservation next week at the Board of Regents meeting in Topeka.

The legislature in 2000 approved the state program called "performance contracting," which allows entities to contract with an energy services company to provide energy-saving upgrades and pay for them with bonds. The energy company guarantees that the money saved by the upgrades will pay for the improvements.

KU's Lawrence campus received approval for $18.4 million in improvements last fall, including installing programmable thermostats, replacing aging cooling towers and a boiler, installing solar window film and making electrical upgrades.

The KU Medical Center contracted with Viron Energy Services in Overland Park to perform an energy audit last fall. The company identified about 25 improvements, including emergency power improvements, water conservation measures and boiler improvements worth nearly $11.5 million. An additional $1 million will go toward financing the bonds.

Phillips said the Medical Center would save slightly more than that in savings in 20 years. If regents approve the contract, planning for improvements would begin immediately.

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