Canal Winchester Local Schools, unlike some other central Ohio school districts, was not affected by recent rate increases by American Electric Power, since the district's electricity is supplied by South Central Power. But Canal Winchester will see rate increases later this year.

Canal Winchester Local Schools, unlike some other central Ohio school districts, was not affected by recent rate increases by American Electric Power, since the district's electricity is supplied by South Central Power. But Canal Winchester will see rate increases later this year.

Treasurer Joyce Boyer said the district expects a 3- to 5-percent rate hike from its electricity provider, South Central Power, in July. In fiscal year 2011, which ran from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, the district paid South Central $805,687.06 for electricity.

South Central spokeswoman Lisa Hooker said the company is merely a distributor of electricity and any rate increase would come through Buckeye Power, the company that generates electricity for Canal Winchester.

Hooker added that South Central does, however, plan to implement a small adjustment to the monthly fee it charges customers on April 1.

"Most of the school buildings, if not all of them, are what we would call an LP or a 'large power' account. Generally, those are 1,000 kilowatts in demand," Hooker said. "They're seeing bills of tens of thousands of dollars a month, because they're LP - large power - very large accounts."

The April rate adjustment will amount to a $25 increase to South Central Power's customer charge, Hooker said.

"It's a monthly, fixed charge," she said. "It's going to go from $50 to $75 a month."

While the district braces for paying higher electricity costs when Buckeye Power's rate increase takes effect in July, it is also planning to save money by increasing energy efficiency.

In August 2011, the district entered into Ohio's Energy Conservation Program/House Bill 264 Program (named after the 1985 law that created the financing mechanism), which allows school districts to make energy efficiency improvements to their buildings and use the cost savings to pay for those improvements.

Canal Winchester's energy efficiency program includes measures such as installing new lighting and technology to make heating and cooling systems function more efficiently, installing new burners on the two middle-school boilers to conserve gas, more closely monitoring when heating and cooling systems can be turned off when buildings empty out at the end of each day and managing humidity in each of the district's four buildings.

The district is in the process of installing an Automated Logic Energy Management System to monitor and manage energy output in the two elementary schools, middle school and high school, Boyer said.

"Once we take control of the buildings with the Automated Logic Energy Management System, the impact will be large, defined and recognizable," she said. "When we have three or four months of utility bills in which we can clearly see the impact of the project, we will put together a 'sneak peek' savings report.

"Since we just got started, we are still several months out from being able to do this."