TVA and Starkville Utilities Light the Way for Big Energy Savings at MSU

Mississippi State University’s (MSU) future is a little brighter these days thanks to the completion of a lighting-improvement project. The project promises to improve indoor lighting quality and improve energy efficiency, while saving the school hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on its power bills.

Working closely with TVA’s EnergyRight® Solutions for Business and Industry (ERSB+I) team, and local power company partner Starkville Utilities, MSU contracted with trade ally partner Smartwatt Energy to replace aging fluorescent lighting with more energy efficient light emitting diodes (LED) and to install energy-saving control technologies. In phase one, improvements were made to more than 14,000 light fixtures across eight campus buildings, accounting for approximately one million square feet. The buildings included dorms, hallways, classrooms, bathrooms, conference rooms and a indoor swimming pool.

“As a public power utility, we are always looking for ways to work with our customers to help them use energy in an efficient manner,” said Terry Kemp, General Manager of Starkville Utilities. “Not only does this project promote efficiency, it gives Mississippi State an extra incentive for doing so.”

MSU turned to ERSB+I’s Standard Incentive energy efficiency offer to offset nearly 10 percent of the project’s expense. The package included a walk-through inspection to identify the most cost-effective energy savings opportunities, along with a $353,642 incentive the University is leveraging to expand improvements to other campus buildings. With an estimated annual electricity savings of $344,312—on top of nearly $80,000 in reduced maintenance costs—MSU anticipates a full payback on its investment in approximately 6.5 years. The remaining project expenses are self-funded by the University through the cost savings realized by the energy improvements. The ERSB+I incentive compelled MSU administrators to make the investment in the upgrades. In phase two, TVA also granted MSU another $150,000 to be used towards the advancement of energy efficiency in higher learning institutions.

Beyond the financial savings, the improvements are forecasted to reduce MSU’s annual electricity consumption by 3,442,120 kilowatt hours (kWh). The savings will position MSU to meet its energy management goals under the guidance of the Mississippi Institutions for Higher Learning, while also bringing the University a step closer to reaching its goal of being carbon free by the year 2042 under the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment.

“We are proud of the partnerships that made this project successful,” said TVA senior manager Bonnie Latta, who oversees ERSB+I. “This collaborative effort is representative of the team approach ERSB+I takes with all of its partners—including internal stakeholders, local power company partners, third-party administrator Lockheed Martin, trade allies, and customers—to ensure we deliver high-quality service, while playing a large role in helping TVA meet its yearly energy savings goals.”

Ultimately, this concerted energy efficiency effort between Starkville Utilities and TVA provides a better learning environment for MSU students, while keeping rates low through better energy management.