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Schools defer energy-savings contract

By Jared Felkins jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:55 PM

The Wilson County Board of Education deferred a vote on whether to enter into an energy savings contract with Dallas-based Cenergistic on Monday night only two days after the board’s chairman was adamant about its consideration. 

“We need to vote on this,” said chairman Don Weathers, who brought the contract up at a Saturday morning work session. “We need to either vote it in or let it go.”

The Cenergistic contract was a topic of discussion at prior board meetings and was placed later Saturday on the board’s Monday night agenda. However, it was removed from the agenda Monday morning. 

Mike Gullatt, Cenergistic senior vice president of corporate communications, said Monday morning company officials requested the board take the contract off the agenda due to an absence of a director of schools following Tim Setterlund’s departure in January. 

“One of the keys to the program is working with leadership from the top down,” Gullatt said. “It benefits us and the district, too.”

According to Gullatt, Cenergistic would provide Wilson County schools with an energy savings plan. 

“We come in and help the district control waste and change the culture of energy conservation and reducing energy waste,” Gullatt said. “It’s really a behavior-based conservation program.”

At Monday night’s meeting, Weathers said the board honored Gullatt’s request to defer the vote on the Cenergistic contract. 

“A gentleman with Cenergistic contacted us and asked that it be pulled from consideration [Monday night],” Weathers said. “There were a lot of questions concerning language. If they would like to come back, we will be happy to consider.”

Gullatt said Wayne Qualls, whose consulting company, Team Inc., was responsible for the board’s last director of schools search, brought the board and Cenergistic together last year. 

“Wayne Qualls is what we call our marketing consultant, and opened the door for us in talking to the district,” Gullatt said. “He invited us to come and make a proposal to the district.”

On Saturday, Weathers was asked a question as to whether he and Qualls were good friends. 

“I would be lucky to have a friend like Wayne Qualls,” Weathers said. 

Monday night, Weathers responded to the question more in detail. 

“On Saturday, my character was called into question,” he said. “I was asked if I was a personal friend of Wayne Qualls. Somebody else asked him to ask that question to me; there are no hard feelings.”

“Wayne Qualls and I have a professional relationship,” said Weathers. “He is above reproach. If he felt it was a conflict of interest, he would never have brought it to the table.”

During Saturday’s work session, board attorney Mike Jennings questioned some language in the proposed contract concerning termination fees should the contract be broken within five years. The contract lists termination fees between $629,375-$302,100, depending on the year. 

Jennings also said the contract would be contingent upon Johnson Control, which currently is under contract with the board to provide energy savings, signing off on a memorandum of understanding to work alongside Cenergistic. 

The contract outlines a five-year plan where Cenergistic consultants would “build and provide a customized energy conservation program that is focused on organizational and behavioral change.”

According to the contract, Cenergistic energy consultants would assess Wilson County schools’ facilities and work with the board to hire an on-site energy specialist. The board would also agree to buy and update Cenergistic’s EnergyCAP software for $6,650 each year for the first three years and $2,593 per year thereafter. 

In exchange for Cenergistic’s services, the board would pay Cenergistic 50 percent of the amount of realized energy savings schools receive during the first five years. After five years, if the board were agreeable to continuing with Cenergistic’s services, there would be no charge except for software updates.

Democrat general assignment reporter Kimberly Jordan contributed to this report. 

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