The Bibb County school board Thursday ratified an energy services agreement with a company that promises to save the district millions of dollars over the next decade.
Board members approved the agreement in a 5-3 vote during the regular board meeting Thursday. Board members Sue Sipe, Lynn Farmer and Lester Miller voted against the motion.
In November, the school board authorized the execution of a contract with Wipro, a company that promises energy savings through measures such as installing more efficient lighting and other technology that monitors energy use in schools.
Part of Wipros work includes retrofitting and installing induction lighting, typically used in outdoor areas and large spaces and touted as an energy-efficient alternative to other lighting systems.
Some of the conditions in that executed contract were subject to change, such as the payment schedule, but were to be finalized through the boards ratification of the agreement later, school board attorney Andrea Jolliffe said.
The new equipment is supposed to cost the district nearly $4 million, but the Bibb County school district is supposed to save more than $8 million over the next decade as a result.
Some board members raised questions over whether insurance for the agreement was in place, but the matter ultimately went through a committee meeting prior to the vote with the stipulation that no work on the project start until it could be verified that an insurance policy is in effect.
Ashley Bell, an attorney for Wipro, said an insurance policy was distributed to school officials earlier this month.
In a separate vote, board members gave unanimous approval to a security package for the energy services agreement, which includes bonds for the installation of equipment and a later phase of work, Jolliffe said.
The package also includes a line of credit that protects the district if it does not see the promised savings from installing the lighting and other equipment.
In November, board members Susan Middleton, Tommy Barnes, Tom Hudson and Ella Carter approved the Wipro deal, while Gary Bechtel voted against it. Board members Sue Sipe, Lynn Farmer and Wanda West were not at that meeting. Middleton, Barnes and Bechtel are no longer serving on the board.
At the time, Bechtel raised several objections over the Wipro deal. Among his concerns was a news release the system issued in September about a collaboration with the school system, the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority for an energy-savings project in Bibb County that included the induction lighting project. Bechtel said he spoke to GEFAs executive director, who told Bechtel he had spoken to Bibbs attorneys only once. A Bibb attorney countered that Bibb lawyers spoke to another GEFA official. At the time, state education officials also said they had not spoken to Bibb school officials either.
The work on the energy-savings projects could begin as soon as Friday and could take several months to complete, Bell said.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 744-4331.