Community College ENERGY-TO-CASH Program

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** This FY18 Program is currently inactive and no longer accepting applicants. The information presented below is for archive purposes and for the convenience of existing applicants. **

The average annual energy expenditure for Maryland community colleges is about $2,000,000. That equates to roughly $250-300 per full-time equivalent student per year. The Maryland Energy Administration’s FY20 Energy-to-Cash program provides incentives to Maryland community colleges that want to minimize utility bills, thus making more resources available for their core educational focus. The Energy-to-Cash program provides a grant of up to $20,000 to each participating community college for the following purposes:
  • ​An energy audit that identifies energy-saving opportunities and the cost-benefit of each, 
​​OR:
  • A capital subsidy for any energy improvement project actually installed.

Participating colleges secure the grant by entering into a memorandum of understanding with The Maryland Energy Administration.

FAQs

 

Why should community colleges consider energy improvements?

The average Maryland community college spends about $2 million per year on utilities.  That’s about $25 to $300 annually per FTE student.  Each dollar spent on energy is one less dollar available for operations.

What kind of savings can colleges expect?

Results vary with each college, depending on its size, age and type of construction, quality of maintenance, and occupancy patterns.  It’s reasonable to expect about 20% savings from a combination of lighting and space conditioning improvements.

What causes energy cost savings?

Energy expenses are reduced in one or more of these four ways: 

  • ​by securing energy commodities at lower prices, 
  • changing the way occupants use existing appliances and systems, 
  • making critical changes to the way a facility’s mechanical systems are monitored and maintained, and 
  • by capital investment to upgrade buildings and their mechanical and electrical systems. 

What is an energy audit, and why is it valuable?

An energy estimates the value lost from energy waste and compares it to the cost of remediation.  You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Also, you can’t make improvements when the opportunities remain invisible.  An energy audit is a “road map” to potential energy savings.

Why does it cost money to save money?

Look at it this way: facilities are already spending money for energy waste that they can economically avoid.  Simply choose to make improvements when the cost of solutions is less than the cost of the waste.

What is the obligation of program participant?

The participating college signs a memorandum of understanding with the Maryland Energy Administration.  This allows MEA to provide up to $20,000 to the college for one of two purposes: (1) to defray the cost of an energy audit.  If the audit finds insufficient savings, the college receives up to $20,000 to recoup the cost of the audit; (2) if the audit finds sufficient savings, there is no reimbursement for the audit.  Instead, the grant is available to defray the cost of implementing the audit’s improvement recommendations.  Participants that find sufficient savings are not obligated to implement improvements, but by doing this, they forfeit the grant.

What is the term of performance?

Pending the negotiation of terms to reflect unique circumstances, participants have two years to follow through on the terms and conditions of the MOU.

About the Program

 

​MEA’s Cash-to-Energy program was conceived to meet a coincidence of unmet needs: 

  • Community colleges are almost always fiscally challenged to fulfill their mandates
  • Energy costs are a large and inescapable component of colleges’ operating expenses.
  • Even when they are aware of energy improvement opportunities, many facility managers lack the “bandwidth” to pursue them because they are fully tasked with ensuring day-to-day reliability and comfort issues.
  • No one facility manager has comprehensive knowledge of cutting-edge energy efficiency solutions.  Nor should they.  Outside expertise brings varied experience to complement the deep, site-specific knowledge held by the facility manager.
  • Most college procurement directors are not familiar with energy audits and the acquisition of energy services.  Some directors are concerned that they will pay for an energy audit that fails to find savings, or that they will Pay for a report that simply directs them to spend more money.​

​​MEA’s Energy-to-Cash program was designed to offset colleges’ perceiv​ed risks of pursuing energy improvements.​​
 
  • ​The program allows MEA not only to provide a grant of up to $20,000 per college, but also to (1) provide technical assistance for developing RFQs to procure energy audits and improvement projects, and (2) to coordinate with local utility programs that provide financial rebates and incentives to further offset costs.
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Sample MOU

Application

For more information, please email Christopher Russell at chris.Russell@Maryland​​​.gov or call (410) 537-3031.​