Project to slash District 51’s utility bill

School District 51 hopes to cut nearly one third of the utility costs for Grand Junction High School through an energy conversion beginning this month.

The high school could save between $74,337 and $89,822 annually on a $229,028 energy bill by installing new lights, controls and a more modern boiler system. Construction will cost $4,260,600 and last through the end of the calendar year. That price tag will drop by $500,000 after an energy rebate from Xcel. The savings will eventually surpass the initial cost, said Jim Knutson, whose energy service company, Trane, will provide materials for the project.

“The project will last more than the life of the financing,” Knutson said.

School board members are expected to approve a contract with Trane at a June 16 business meeting.

Grand Junction High School’s boiler system survived a flood in November 2008. But District 51 Maintenance Director Cal Clark doesn’t know if the steam-powered boilers could make it through another disaster.

“To tell the truth, we’re running on borrowed time — we got lucky once,” Clark said.

The new boiler system will run on gas. The boiler replacement should be complete by Oct. 15.

This project isn’t the only one beginning this summer. School’s out, but work has just begun for maintenance workers across the district.

When students return to school 11 weeks from today, they’ll find new flooring in parts of Palisade and Grand Junction high schools and Shelledy Elementary, a new roof over New Emerson School and the Grand Junction High School auditorium, repaired sidewalks around Shelledy and Taylor elementaries and new windows inside Fruitvale and Nisley elementary schools.

They’ll also notice two new modulars at Rim Rock Elementary and one new modular at Pomona Elementary. Glade Park will have its own school for the first time in years.

Numerous schools will get new swamp coolers, paint jobs, plumbing, gym floor resurfacing and a variety of carpentry projects.

The summer will also offer technology employees to perform numerous updates to school computers. Their tasks will include installing 19 new programs, rebuilding 29 servers and wiping and then replacing the hard drives on 6,976 computers.


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