Charles County Public Schools recently received $17,000 in incentives for participating in the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative's (SMECO) Business Solutions program. The program provides incentives to businesses that make efficiency improvements to their facilities.

Kevin Clark, a representative from SMECO, presented the school system with a check during the Dec. 11 Board of Education meeting. The incentive was provided for the replacement of nine rooftop heating and air conditioning units with energy-efficient equipment at Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School. Incentives are funded through the Maryland Public Service Commission's approved energy efficiency charges that are applied to customer electric bills as part of the EmPower Maryland initiative.

Charles County Public Schools also received a $262,994 incentive through participation in the 2012 Demand Response Program, which is coordinated through SMECO's contract with Comverge, Inc. Comverge is an independent company that provides clean energy solutions through demand response and energy efficiency. Tripp Warner, a representative from Comverge, also presented the Board with a check at their Dec. 11 meeting.

The Demand Response Program focuses on reducing electricity use during peak demand hours, which results in energy savings. During the months of June through September, the electric usage of all schools, centers and buildings was reduced during peak demand hours on seven different occasions. Last school year, Charles County Public Schools received a $145,000 incentive for participating in the 2011 Demand Response Program and more than $26,000 in incentives for replacing old equipment with energy efficient resources.

Under EmPower Maryland, Maryland's five major utility companies developed and implemented energy efficiency and demand response programs that include electric bill rebates for energy efficiency investments, audits and services. The goal of EmPower Maryland is to reduce power consumption 15 percent by 2015.

All non-residential customers who receive SMECO service are eligible to participate in the Business Solutions program, but interested customers must apply for program participation. Additional information is located on the Business Solutions program page of the SMECO website,

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,700 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 35 caring community schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator (students), or Connie W. Armstead, Section 504 Coordinator (employees/adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, Maryland 20646; (301) 932-6610/870-3814. For special accommodations call (301) 934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.