Jim McBee, Director of Business and Transportation, has worked with the North Montgomery Community School Corporation for the past 15 years in his current position. He previously worked at Purdue University for six years as a business manager before coming to NMCSC and served on the school board for two years. Jim is a member of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials (IASBO) and serves on other community boards.
Many of our Owners prioritize energy efficiency, which often entitles them to energy rebates/incentives from their utility companies. If you have not pursued rebates before, it can be a confusing and time-consuming process. Hear why Jim McBee, director of business and transportation for North Montgomery Community School Corporation (NMCSC), thinks the effort is worthwhile.
What sparked the recent renovation work in NMCSC?
As we were looking at our budget a few years ago, we were looking at tax rates for our tax payers and doing future planning. One of the things that came up was a renovation project at the high school in 2001, and those bonds would be paid off in the next few years. So, the discussion was, what’s next for our school corporation?
At that point, we looked at a feasibility study. We started looking at all of our facilities—what needs to be done to maintain them and to upgrade them to the new ways of education to ensure we have the state-of-the-art ways of doing things? That study put the scope of the new projects into focus.
We ended up doing work at three elementary schools, the middle school, and the high school. We’re doing the work in stages, with the first stage starting last October with the elementary schools. They are now wrapping up.
What were your priorities?
We had three priorities:
- School safety
- Updating education methods
- Improving efficiency
Not only did we focus on education, which was the main focus, but at the same time we wanted to look at the infrastructure. We wanted to replace all of our lighting with LEDs to be energy efficient and to improve the quality of lighting.
You pursued energy rebates/incentives for this work. How familiar were you with rebates?
Our experience with rebates started about 10 years ago. We did an energy savings contract and did boiler replacements and some of those things. We received some rebates then, so we knew the advantage of doing them. We’ve been going through a process over the past five to eight years doing LED light replacement. Our team took care of the rebates on those.
What has the rebate process been like for you?
It is time consuming. There is a lot of paper work. You have to know what you are replacing and what you are replacing it with. You also have to do it in advance to get prior approvals. It takes time and effort to do that.
Working with Schmidt Associates this time has been very efficient. Bill Gruen follows the projects, gets the information he needs, provides the forms—all I am doing is reviewing the forms and signing them. It’s been very seamless.
What are you doing with the rebate dollars?
What I’m doing is putting that back into our project funds, and what I’m hoping to do is more LED lighting replacement. We have football lights, basketball gyms, and other lights we had not planned to do initially. With money coming back in, it’s going to give us the opportunity to do more lights, which in turn generate more energy efficiency and more rebates. Rebate dollars can help you do those things you couldn’t put on your list.
Will you be pursuing rebates on future projects?
Absolutely. We continue to look for ways to be energy efficient, and when it is time to replace, see those advantages. Our food service department, for example, will do rebates when we replace ovens and other equipment.
What advice do you have for Owners who are new to the rebate process?
Pursue them. It’s definitely worthwhile from a budget standpoint.
When you look at the package and the forms, it can be overwhelming. If you’re doing it on your own, definitely reach out to your utility company. Most of them have support staff that can help you.
If you’re working with companies like Schmidt Associates, definitely utilize their resources. They’ve done it enough times that they know what they’re doing. For example, one of the form packets Bill sent me to review was 20 pages long. It’s a considerable amount of time savings for me to have Schmidt Associates do that. There’s no doubt about it.