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Brown negotiating contract to save on utilities

The King George School Board authorized Superintendent Candace Brown to negotiate terms for a contract with Energy Education Inc. to supply services for the division to save money on utility costs through employing energy conservations practices. That action took place on Nov. 15.
Brown said she would be joined in the negotiations by the members of a selection committee, of which she is a member.
The other members are King George County Procurement Manager Kelly Dixon, King George Service Authority General Manager Chris Thomas, county General Properties Manager Matt Clift and division Facilities Coordinator Don Hall.


The committee had previously reviewed and scored the three submissions, with Dallas-based Energy Education coming out on top.
The other two firms submitting proposals were 2RW Consultants, Inc. based in Charlottesville, and Honeywell from its Richmond office.
Dixon had opened the three proposals on Sept. 28 from firms specializing in providing services to save money on utility costs through employing energy conservation practices.
The proposals were in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued on Sept. 8 on behalf of the King George school division.
Brown told the School Board she expected to have a proposed contract for approval at its next regular meeting, which is on Dec. 13.
TERM OF CONTRACT, SCOPE OF SERVICES       
The contract period would be for 12 months, with the division having an option to extend the contract for up to three additional years, contingent on satisfaction with services provided, and availability of funds for the purpose, with contract fees and program details for any subsequent year to be negotiated annually.
The RFP says the school division wants a firm to develop and deliver a people-oriented energy conservation program, which will provide it with a sustainable energy conservation program managed by its own employees.
That means a program that would teach employees behavior modification so they would save utility costs by consistently turning off lights and computers and lowering thermostats.
The program is to target conservation of utilities including electricity, natural gas, heating oil and water & sewer.
The program is to be fully funded by utility budget savings.
The program shouldn’t require any capital expenditures to successfully produce cost savings, including mechanical retrofits or installation of computerized control systems.
Implementation is to be managed by a current employee who will take on the duties of an energy manager, with a back-up employee.
The firm is to provide all services necessary to guide and assist program implementation and sustainability, including on-site and face-to-face training for the energy manager and back-up, with additional training to be available at no additional cost through written materials and other media.
PRIOR RELATIONSHIP WITH SELECTED FIRM    
The School Board was poised to approve a contract with the selected firm, Energy Education Inc, back in August.
The company had provided two presentations to the School Board, with one in June and the second on Aug. 9.
With a majority of School Board members stating their enthusiasm for the company on Aug. 9, Brown said she would bring the matter back for action on Aug. 23.
That would have resulted in award of a sole-source contract to the company, which legally can only be done under certain circumstances prescribed by state law.
School Board policy also requires such a costly contract for services as described to go through the county’s procurement manager to ensure competition and compliance with applicable county ordinances and the state’s Public Procurement Act.
The School Board was saved from breaking its own policy, and what might have been an illegal action, when it was pointed out that there are numerous firms offering similar services. That’s when it was decided to put out an RFP.
In such cases, the prior presentations and materials previously supplied would be considered part of fact-finding, generally with care taken to see that no advantage is granted to the firm supplying prior information.
It’s not clear what the precise terms of the contract would have been in August, since Brown told The Journal on Aug. 11 that she had not seen an actual contract from the firm.
She and the School Board were instead relying on information in a booklet prepared for the division, which outlined a four-year deal with a fee of $150,000 per year to be paid to the firm, in addition to costs for the purchase of software and for hiring a part-time or full-time employee to implement the energy conservation initiatives.

Phyllis Cook
Staff reporter

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