As reported earlier today, the Windham School Board pushed through an over $500,000 proposal with a company called Cenergistic. This company was formerly Energy Education Incorporated and changed their name within the past couple of years. According to Cenergistic’s own website, they have 3 other school districts as clients in New Hampshire: Claremont, Londonderry and Nashua. Unfortunately there’s a slight problem. Cenergistic is not registered to do business in New Hampshire.
According to the NH Secretary of State’s site “All companies doing business in New Hampshire must register with the Secretary of State’s Corporation Division.” A search on their website for Cenergistic or even Energy Education Incorporated brought up no such registered company. A call put into the NH SOS’s office had the same results. How is it that a company such as Cenergistic is doing business with public school districts isn’t legally registered to do business in the state of New Hampshire?
This is on top of the other information that has been discovered about Cenergistic in which school officials in other states have been found to receive kickbacks from the company. Apparently Bob Williams of Lakeland, Florida received over $70,000 from Energy Education Inc. (now Cenergistic). Another school officialresigned after recommending Cenergistic (when still doing business as Energy Education Inc.) without bothering to notify the school board that she had actually consulted for the company.
Clearly there are some ethical violations and issues within Cenergistic itself but the Windham School Board wasn’t given a chance to research and review any of these potential issues. They also weren’t given the chance to review why some school districts dumped Cenergistic. Did the superintendent, Winfried Feneberg or the business administrator, Adam Steel know about these potential issues? If so, why weren’t they brought up to the school board? If not, why didn’t they do their due diligence?
On top of that the Massachusetts Inspector General wrote an advisory to school districts to not execute contracts with this company until they fully understand the contractual obligations as Ken Eyring pointed out in his letter to the editor in the Windham Independent:
That advisory refers to EEI and includes the following:
“Before paying a vendor hundreds of thousands of dollars, this Office strongly recommends that school districts determine if some energy savings can be achieved through other forms of education or energy conservation measures.”
“Although EEI claims that its program is unique, energy conservation and management service options exist in abundance”.
“This Office recommends that awarding authorities not execute contracts until they fully understand the basis of the service fee being charged and should be able to tie the fee to a measurable product deliverable.”
Other school districts have ended their contracts with Cenergistic after finding they didn’t really understand how the energy savings were tracked and that the savings were mostly eaten up by the costs associated with the program. In Milford, CT Energy Education had the school board create an $80,000 a year position for “changing school system employees attitudes about energy consumption.” At least the school board in that town actually questioned the program and weren’t forced to vote on it after only 48 hours of review. In Hamburg, NY, the school Superintendent there pushed through Energy Education Inc. without any other bids. As soon as the superintendent retired, the school board ended the expensive program.
Remember, the school board was given only 48 hours’ notice of Cenergistic’s $577,000 proposal. When it was suggested by board member Ken Eyring that the board have more time to research, he was ignored. When resident and facilities committee member Tom Murray spoke up, the police were called. Clearly there are some serious issues with Cenergistic both in the present, they aren’t legally registered to do business in New Hampshire according to the NH SOS and in their recent past as Energy Education Incorporated. There are ethical issues as well as legal issues on top of true cost vs benefit issues. Why again was this ‘no bid’ proposal and contract pushed through so quickly? It’s a question Windham residents should demand be answered.
h/t to Steve MacDonald about the NH SOS
Cross posted from Examiner