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Coast Guard Academy completes project to cut down energy consumption by nearly 50%

New London — The Coast Guard Academy has completed a major project to reduce its overall energy consumption by nearly 50% and save more than $2 million in energy costs annually.

The academy partnered with energy companies Eversource and Ameresco on the largest energy savings project in the history of the Coast Guard, which resulted in $39 million in capital improvements to the 87-year-old campus, such as replacing an oil-fired boiler with a natural gas plant and installing solar panels and new light fixtures.

"It is what you do not see that counts," Rear Adm. Bill Kelly, superintendent of the academy, said Thursday at an event marking the completion of the project, indicating most of the improvements are not in plain sight.

When the project started two years ago, the academy was the third largest consumer of energy within the Coast Guard. Now, it's out of the top 10.

In November 2017, when the project started, the academy's annual energy costs were about $3 million annually. As a result of the upgrades, the academy will reduce its water consumption by more than 15 percent and reduce its carbon emissions by 7,824 metric tons per year — the equivalent of taking more than 1,600 cars off the road annually, according to a news release announcing the completion of the project.

Cmdr. Cesar Acosta, director of facilities at the academy, said officials there will monitor how much power is being generated internally, how much power is coming from renewable energy sources, and the diversion of carbon into atmosphere, and will be able to compare the data to the academy's previous energy consumption.

The project was funded through a $72.6 million Utility Energy Service Contract, which allow federal agencies, in this case the Coast Guard, to finance a plan using the money it saves on its utility bills.

Representatives from the University of Connecticut, University of Rhode Island and Connecticut College were present at Thursday's event to learn more about the project, and how they might do something similar on their campuses.

j.bergman@theday.com

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