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A 16-year energy performance contract approved Thursday by the Olean School Board will return more than $20,000 to the operating fund in the first year.

The $828,757 contract with Johnson Controls will reduce the loss of energy from aging or malfunctioning equipment. If the school does not realize energy-cost savings of at least $62,196 each year, Johnson Controls will reimburse the district.

The company performed an initial audit this spring. It pointed out the need for a number of improvements, including such items as high-efficiency motors, district Superintendent Ralph Kerr told board members during a year-end meeting. Officials hope making many minor changes to the heating and lighting systems, closing leaks and tuning up the apparatus that circulates indoor air will make a big difference in energy bills.

The energy performance upgrades will be paid for in annual payments over 16.7 years with a bond issue. State Education Department aid will refund the district's cost of those payments.

Kerr said 73 percent of the project cost is eligible for this reimbursement, if Johnson Controls' detailed energy audit passes muster with Education Department officials over the next few months.

The first year the project is in full swing, the district's budget is to see a net return of $20,621. That figure is projected to increase slightly each year during the life of the contract.

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