Geothermal Energy Debuts at Oregon Schools Saving Thousands

By: WIFR Newsroom
By: WIFR Newsroom

OREGON (WIFR) -- Over the summer, Chevron Energy Solutions installed geothermal energy systems to provide new heating, cooling and ventilation to portions of Oregon Elementary School and all of Oregon High School. The infrastructure and operational efficiency of the buildings will vastly improve, creating a more reliable environment for students and staff and annual cost savings of at least $10,000.

The new geothermal system has a number of advantages over traditional heating and cooling that benefits the school district in a number of ways:

• Replaces boilers and electrical equipment that were outside their useful life and had a high chance for failure.
• The improved heating and cooling will increase instructional time due to a consistent classroom climate.
• Improvements will lead to better learning/working environment for students and staff.
• Improvements could increase use of buildings to support an expanded school calendar or summer school.
• New system eliminates concerns regarding start date of school year.
• Supports the District’s vision to make its building competitive with other local districts.

Geothermal systems work by using a system of underground pipes to extract energy below the surface of the earth. The pipes send water underground to become heated, and then back above ground to provide the building with a constant, reusable energy source. Geothermal systems typically cut energy costs by 30-40%.

“The new geothermal system is great for all stakeholders in the district, not just those who go to Oregon Elementary or Oregon High School,” said Oregon Superintendent Tom Mahoney. “We’ve improved the quality of the educational environment and will be saving money to use for other purposes in the district, which is a benefit to taxpayers. It’s also more environmentally friendly, so it’s something everyone can be proud of.”

Part of the project was funded by a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation that was awarded to the Oregon School District in May. The Board subsequently approved a contract with Chevron for $6.8 million to complete the work.

Over the summer and concluding this fall, all buildings also received upgraded wiring, enhanced building entrance security, and new phone systems.

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