CEO explains why new Horry County schools will not be ‘cost-neutral’

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County’s five new schools will all be energy-positive, but there’s been some confusion over what exactly that means.

“Energy positive on these projects means we’re generating more electricity than we’re consuming,” said CEO of First Floor Architects, Robbie Ferris.

However, the county budgeted $450,000 in energy costs for the five schools this coming school year. 

News 13 asked Ferris why there will be a cost if the schools are supposed to be energy-positive.

“I think that has been confused with cost-neutral,” said Ferris, who said there’s a big difference.

“When the RFQ came out, it asked us to generate more power than we consume. But it did not ask us to generate so much more that we would completely eliminate the power bill,” he added.

Ferris also said for there to be no energy bill, the schools would have to generate about 40% more electricity than they consume.

“We’re going to generate just a little bit more than we consume,” said Ferris. “Which means we will not be cost neutral which means there will be a small power bill.”

Ferris also said while there will be energy bills, this will be a huge savings for the district.

“Where I want it to be is getting a potentially $150,000 electric bill down to 30, 40 or $50,000,” said Horry County School Board Chairman, Joe DeFeo. “That’s where I want it to be.”

Ferris also said a second school will not be ready in time for kids to move in for the 2017-2018 school year. Myrtle Beach Middle School is not expected to be ready until October 2017.

“We were not able to accelerate the schedule as much as we had hoped,” added Ferris, who attributes the delay to a delay in starting the project.