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Ohio University to receive $29 million for energy efficiency, conservation project

Ohio University will receive $29 million in financing to implement a comprehensive energy efficiency and conservation overhaul of 72 buildings at its main campus in Athens thanks to a low-interest loan package authorized by the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (OAQDA) at its July meeting. After a competitive process, the University selected Constellation NewEnergy to develop and implement the project.

"The $29 million package will enable us to significantly improve the University's infrastructure and replace aging mechanical, electrical and communications equipment," said Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis.

Energy conservation measures at University buildings include campus-wide interior lighting retrofits and a variety of other upgrades at buildings across campus. Those additional upgrades include air system and tower condition improvements; direct digital control system expansion, upgrade and integration; variable-frequency drive installation on up to four dozen fan motors; kitchen hood improvements; pipe and blanket installation; water conservation measures and other improvements.

The project will result in annual energy savings of more than $1.9 million, which will be used to fund the cost of the improvements over the project's 15-year term. When complete, the project will generate significant air quality benefits, including the removal of 50,145 tons of carbon dioxide, 10w tons of nitrogen oxide and 262 tons of sulfur dioxide. These greenhouse gas reductions are the equivalent of removing 13,359 cars from the road or the planting of 16.7 million trees.

"Ohio University is once again demonstrating its leadership among our public institutions of higher learning, in this case in the critically important area of energy efficiency and conservation," said State Representative Debbie Phillips (D-92). "And the residents of Athens County, and our state as a whole, are beneficiaries of the air quality improvements the project will foster."

"The energy savings alone makes this project a win for Ohio taxpayers," added State Senator Troy Balderson (R-20). "However, these systems will also decrease hazardous air emissions while making the University facilities vastly more comfortable for the entire Ohio University community."

Under the loan package, OAQDA approved financing of up to $29 million in the form of two Air Quality Development Bonds for issuance as Series A federally tax-exempt bonds and Series B Qualified Energy Conservation Bond (QECB) federal tax credit bonds. OAQDA administers the QECB program in Ohio.  

The Ohio University project is the largest such project authorized by OAQDA under the QECB program. It also yielded a best-ever net interest rate of 1.4142 percent for the bonds, which will mature in December 2027.