HOMER-CENTER: Electricity agreement may save district $40,000
March 25, 2013 10:50 AM

CENTER TOWNSHIP — When school goes on summer break and only a few people are at work in the offices, some of the scorching days of August could be absolute days off for the Homer-Center School District.

The school board has ratified a new electric service contract with Hess Corporation, of Woodbridge, N.J., including a voluntary blackout agreement that could reduce electric bills by more than $40,000 in the next three years.

Under the Demand Response Program Agreement with Hess, Homer-Center agrees to have its power shut off on days of peak electricity demand — during a summer heat wave, for example — so utility companies can maintain power for hospitals and other vital customers.

“We have to make a commitment that we will shut down all power when the utilities are in need of additional power for emergency services,” district Superintendent Charles Koren said. “When we make that commitment, we receive funds in return. We have the option to participate. If we elect not to participate, that decreases the amount by 50 percent.”

Business Manager Greg Cessna said the discount is based on the amount of power the school district uses.

“One day during the summer, we will have to shut down as much as possible for one hour so they can record how much electric consumption we decrease,” Cessna said. “Based on that amount, they will reimburse the school district” in the form of a discount on monthly bills.

“The thing is that we do not have to do it if they ask us to do it,” Cessna said. “That’s important because obviously we cannot cut our power if it is a school day.”

If the district declines a request to shut off power, its discount would be less, he said.

Cessna said he knew of no maximum number of days the power company might ask the district to take a blackout. There also is no minimum — no guarantee that the district might be called at all to shut off its power.

Under terms of the agreement, Hess would reduce bills by $20,000 in the first year, then $11,000 and $10,000 in the next two years.

In other business at its meeting Thursday the board:

Approved a one-year agreement for telephone service from Consolidated Communications, the current provider. Under the contract extension, Consolidated would reduce district phone bills to $400 a month and allow 2,000 minutes of long-distance service at no extra cost. The district’s last bill from Consolidated was for $679.91.

The directors voted 8-0 to accept the utility contracts and all other matters before the board. President Vicki Smith, Vice President Gerald Bertig, and members Fred Hayes, James McLoughlin, Julie Rado, Joy Sasala, Kimberly Thomas and Sherri Williams were in favor; Dan Fabin was absent.

Approved the purchase of a core switch to link the district’s fiber optic cables into a network at a cost of $8,347 from CXtec.

Tabled for further review a proposal to extend the contract with the district solicitor, Daniel W. Cooper, of Pittsburgh, at a rate of $80 an hour for the 2013-14 school year.

Accepted a donation of $100 earmarked for the elementary music program from Daniel and Pamela Faris, the parents of a fifth-grade student in the band and chorus.

“We are aware of what an asset Mrs. (Tammy) Menk is to the elementary music program,” they Farises wrote in a letter to the board. “We also know that funding for such programs is not a priority at this time. We would like to help out, although in a small way, by making a donation.”

Approved the Armstrong-Indiana Intermediate Unit general operating budget of $2.9 million for 2013-14, including the district’s share of $31,003, reflecting an increase of $307 over this year.

Approved Joe Iezzi Jr., of Homer City, as an assistant coach of the girls’ track team for 2012-13 at a supplemental salary of $2,212, and Stephanie Mallis as a volunteer for the band.

Approved two requests from faculty members to attend conferences, and six student field trip requests.

Granted permission to Brian Bertig and Homer-Center Recreation and Parks Department to use the high school gym and related facilities for alumni basketball games from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 3. The district will waive a rental fee but collect a custodial fee of $80.

Permitted Robert Rado and the Homer-Center Boys Basketball Boosters to use the high school gym for summer basketball camp from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 10 to 14, and from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 17 to 21. The district will waive all fees.

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