Empire Electric Association has paid the first rebate to the Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 School District for installing energy efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units on four local schools.
District officials accepted a check for $48,600 from Empire officials for a new HVAC system installed at Kemper Elementary.
The check was presented by Empire Electric General Manager Josh Dellinger, energy management adviser Meegan Markham and Empire Electric board member Larry Archibeque.
Rebates are based on an energy-efficient audit score for the units, Markham said.
In May, the school board agreed to allocate $1.2 million toward HVAC systems for Kemper, Lewis-Arriola, and Mesa elementary schools and the Cortez Middle School.
Funding came from recently recovered back taxes from Kinder Morgan Inc., according to Jamie Haukeness, Re-1 director of safety and facilities.
“We’ve never had air conditioning in the elementary schools, and it has always been difficult to teach students in August and spring months when the temperatures in the classroom can reach 85 degrees,” he said.
The rebate funds will go into the capital reserve fund for school improvements, said Re-1 School Superintendent Lori Haukeness.
“We appreciate the board decision to approve this project that will benefit teachers and students,” she said. “It’s an efficient use of the back taxes,” and the efficiency rebates help with the costs.
For Mesa elementary the rebate is estimated at $26,400 and for Lewis-Arriola, $14,400. The rebate amount for Cortez Middle School is still being determined.
Besides more comfortable learning conditions, it also provides the school calendar more flexibility to hold classes during hotter weather, she said.
In addition to cooling in warmer months, the units also provide a heating source in the winter which reduces pressure on boilers.
Installation is complete at the Cortez Middle School and is ongoing at Lewis-Arriola. Units have been ordered for the Mesa Elementary, and will be installed soon. Mathews Electric was awarded the bid for the project.