New Jersey-based developer DCO Energy has finalized a contract for a $122 million energy savings improvement program (ESIP) to assist and develop a renewable future for Jersey City Public Schools, the third largest public school district in New Jersey.
The deal marks the largest ESIP ever approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) and will include the installation of solar energy technologies for the Jersey City Public School District, which has a total of 44 schools, representing 5.5 million square feet, and will receive significant renovations and improvements.
The district will experience the benefits of green energy with 31 schools will have solar generation of almost 11 GWh of electricity. All the new solar energy created in the school district will help improve the district’s overall energy portfolio. With this technological advance, its green footprint will advance and generate 42% of its power on-site via solar.
“This project is a testament to the sustainable and health safety priorities of Jersey City Public Schools,” said Dr. Norma Fernandez, superintendent of the district. “We are committed to providing a green, safe, and healthy learning environment for all students and staff. Installing new HVAC equipment and solar panels will significantly improve indoor air quality and reduce emissions, allowing the school district to redirect the funding into educational programs while improving the quality of classrooms for students.”
DCO Energy has more than 75 ESIP projects in its portfolio, amounting in more than $725 million in total project dollars. The company will work closely with representatives of the Jersey City School Board, NJPBU and the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs to oversee and accomplish the ESIP project. Thanks to the ESIP, 1,100 local well-paying careers will be available in the Jersey City area.
“Over my 30-plus years of industry experience, it has never been more exciting to see Jersey City Public Schools investing in a sustainable, greener future for students and staff,” said Dr. Dennis Frohnapfel, acting business administrator of the district. “By partnering with DCO Energy and funding from American Rescue Plan (ARP), we will modernize the district’s facilities while reducing our energy and operational expenses. This is a win-win for everyone, but most importantly for the students of Jersey City.”
The ESIP project will receive an additional allocation of $64 million in federal grant funding and capital reserve to assist the development of other sustainable improvements in the district. This is funding through the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER) established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). In 2021, the act was created during the pandemic to help assist schools safely reopen and operate sustainably.
The ESIP project will deliver new LED Lighting, upgraded automation, renovated heating and cooling systems, water conservation and infrastructure improvements. These measures will help the district save money and reduce its carbon footprint. Eight schools in Jersey City will receive newly installed HVAC ventilation systems that decrease the schools’ energy use and deliver cutting-edge indoor air quality enhancements for students and teachers.
Over the next 20 years, the school district expects to save $88 million thanks to the positive improvements to the energy eco-system.
“This critical project will carve a path for a sustainable future for Jersey City Public Schools and set a shining example of what the future will look like as others add capital improvements,” said Valerie Moran, senior VP of DCO Energy. “The school district will save money on energy costs, reduce its carbon footprint, and create jobs in the community. Students and staff will benefit from improved indoor air quality and a brighter, more sustainable future.”
DCO Energy’s philosophy focuses on leaving a lasting impact on the communities in which it works, not only from the standpoint of facility improvements, but also from the involvement of students and residents. In partnership with Jersey City Public Schools, DCO Energy and its Competitive Edge team, will deploy local education resources to deliver customized educational programs for Jersey City Public School students. The programs will introduce and expand knowledge of STEM/STEAM through hands-on learning experiences covering the topics of women in engineering, Live Classroom instruction, and Train-to-Hire programs from DCO team leaders.
— Solar Builder magazine