Employees of FPL Energy Services this week fanned out to Gov. Juan F. Luis Memorial Hospital, Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center and the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital where, under a contract approved a week ago by the Government of the Virgin Islands, the company will perform energy audits that could identify ways to save on power use and money.
The medical facilities are receiving an "integrated industrial-grade audit," according to the V.I. Energy Office.
"It includes looking at everything that uses energy in the hospital – air conditioning, lighting, refrigeration," said Don Buchanan, media specialist at the Energy Office. "Then this company will come up with ‘a menu,’ or more officially a ‘task order,’ of what the company can do to save the hospital money," he said.
Gov. John deJongh Jr. signed an agreement with FPL Energy Services Inc. earlier in the week.
During the meeting immediately prior to the signing, deJongh questioned the principals of FPLES about its timeline, auditing procedures and what specifically may be involved in the energy retrofits.
Interim Chief Executive Officer Kendall Griffith of JFL and Schneider CEO Bernard Wheatley also questioned the contractors about the projects, which will include both energy generation measures and energy conservation.
The agreement between the Virgin Islands and FPLES for this work is similar to the 2013 contract between the government and Energy Systems Group for energy retrofits at public schools and education facilities.
According to the Energy Office, an energy-saving, performance contract is an agreement between a building’s owner and an energy service company to guarantee energy-saving improvements. The company conducts an audit of the facility, identifies energy-saving improvements, then designs and installs what meets the owner’s needs.
“This is another step in this administration’s effort to bring the Virgin Islands into a future of clean and sustainable energy use," deJongh said after the signing. "The hospitals will benefit tremendously by addressing critical maintenance needs while also reducing their energy burden.”
FPL Energy Services is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc., an international energy company.
V.I. Energy Office Director Karl Knight said, “We look forward to a fruitful relationship with FPL Energy Services and benefitting from their knowledge and expertise.”
In 2013 the V.I. Senate authorized the Public Finance Authority to issue $35 million in bonds to fund these projects and others using energy-saving, performance contracts.
These projects were launched in the territory when the Energy Office conducted a pilot project, partnering with the Department of Education to retrofit 11 public schools in 2011. The project was funded by $6.7 million in grant funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
The conservation measures included water and lighting retrofits, the installation of LED lighting and high efficiency fluorescent lighting fixtures, occupancy sensors, low-flow toilets, low-flow urinals and push-button faucets. The project was completed in October 2011 on time and within its budget.
Savings for the first year were $1.3 million, according to the Energy Office. The contractor, Energy Systems Group, had guaranteed $1.2 million each year.
“The hospital projects present an opportunity to replace large capital equipment – boilers, chillers, freezers, coolers, laundry equipment, etc.," Knight said. "In many instances the useful life expectancy of that equipment is nearing its end and the ability to replace them through energy savings is quite beneficial.”
The projects also could include the installation of combined heat and power systems and solar arrays.