The schools' energy watchdog

Dale Diller makes sure schools get their money's worth

Dale Diller makes sure schools get their money's worth

February 07, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Buy cheap and use less.

Washington County Public Schools Energy Management Specialist Dale Diller said that is the key to keeping the school system's energy costs down.

Since he was hired in September 2006, Diller said he has put the school system on the path to reducing those costs.

Diller said his job includes purchasing energy and making sure the school system gets the best price available. He also works on the purchase of natural gas, and he assesses facilities to determine whether schools are operating in an energy-efficient manner.


Schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen said Diller's role was a new one for Washington County Public Schools and that the school board was interested in energy management.

Officials said the salary range for his position is $51,735 to $73,763. Diller, 51, is being paid $59,977 per year, according to the human resources department.

Diller, who lives in Chambersburg, Pa., previously worked for school systems in Pennsylvania, first as an electrician, and then as maintenance supervisor. He said he has about six years of experience in energy management. He also has an extensive background in electric, plumbing and associated trades.

Washington County school system's energy budget is $6.4 million, Diller said.

With deregulation in Maryland, he said there are opportunities to keep that amount the same or reduce it even though there have been unprecedented increases in utility costs nationwide.

Boyd Michael, assistant superintendent for school operations, said Diller's main role will be to reduce costs.

While conducting an audit of the school system's utility accounts, Diller noticed that some numbers didn't match up. As a result, the school system received about $89,000 in refunds and credits. Michael said that is unlikely to happen every year, but that Diller will be working to save the school system money in other ways.

"That money will go to other needs in the school system," Michael said. "Primarily educating children."

That information and some of his short- and long-term goals were included in a report before the Washington County Board of Education during the board's business meeting Tuesday.

Diller said that in the few months he has been with the school system, he has visited and evaluated energy usage at 43 sites. Diller said he determined the Btu - a unit for measuring heat - being used per square foot in each school and targeted four schools that are among the top energy users in the county: Clear Spring Middle, Winter Street Elementary, Smithsburg Middle and Smithsburg High.

The school board unanimously approved a lighting replacement for Clear Spring Middle at its last business meeting that Diller said will pay for itself in reduced energy costs in less than three years.

He said that is the case with many projects designed to reduce energy costs. There are some initial costs, but the project pays for itself and then begins saving the school system money.

Diller said he hasn't decided what energy-saving techniques he'll recommend for the other targeted schools. It could be anything from window projects to a boiler replacement.

"Overall, I'm impressed with the system," he said.

Though many of the schools in the county are more than 40 years old, he said officials have energy efficient practices in place.

Diller's role not only includes improving the county's existing schools, but he said he's also making recommendations on how to make the planned new schools more energy efficient.

"It's anything I can identify and look at that's going to keep costs down," he said.

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