Facing possible budget constraints, Pflugerville ISD exploring energy conservation program

Pflugerville ISD administrative building
The Pflugerville ISD board of trustees is considering adopting a conservation program that could possibly save the district more than $2 million in energy costs over the next handful of years. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Pflugerville ISD board of trustees is considering adopting a conservation program that could possibly save the district more than $2 million in energy costs over the next handful of years. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Pflugerville ISD may enter into an energy conservation program that district officials hope will help the district save millions on utility costs over the next handful of years.

A representative from Cenergistic, a Dallas-based energy consumption consultancy, on May 6 told the PfISD board of trustees that the organization could save the district more than $2 million in utility costs in the next five years.

“We go after waste and energy consumption based off behavior methods and usage methods,” Cenergistic Regional Vice President Doug Bilyeu said.

According to Bilyeu’s presentation, the district can accumulate savings through establishing conservation behaviors districtwide and tracking real-time utility data from across its facilities. The plan includes some cost-saving measures such as shutting off utilities in sections of buildings that are not occupied and finding ways to conserve energy throughout the kitchens of different campuses.

“It is nickels and dimes millions of times, but it is also building the culture of a conservator,” Bilyeu told trustees.

Cenergistic’s fees would be paid through the collected energy savings on an annual basis, per Bilyeu, which would serve to mitigate the district’s financial risk.

According to projections from Cenergeistic, PfISD would save $367,600 in energy cost savings under the first year of its conservation program. Over a five-year plan, PfISD would see a total net savings of $2.43 million. Trustee Brian Allen said that amount of money equates to eight or nine teacher salaries for the district.

“We don’t have a conservation mindset in our district; I can tell you from walking around,” PfISD Superintendent Douglas Killian said. “We can do these little things that will make a big difference.”

The proposal came on the same night that PfISD officials forecast the district may experience financial shortfalls in the next several years.

PfISD Chief Operations Officer Ed Ramos presented a budget forecast to trustees May 6. The forecast showed the district could potentially lose $6.1 million in state funding next year if it loses its fast-growth designation. The designation is given to school districts that the Texas Education Agency has identified with growth in student enrollment over the preceding three school years in the top quartile of student enrollment growth across the entire state.

PfISD is currently considered a fast-growth district and is anticipating a 3% increase in student enrollment for the 2021-22 school year, up to 26,312 students, according to district documents.

Ramos said the district is following a bill going through the Texas Legislature that would change the calculations of a fast-growth district. If the bill is signed into law, Ramos said the projected $6 million deficit in state funding would turn into a $2 million gain.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


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