The Prince of Darkness
The following letter was submitted by Eileen Mashimo, Candidate for the Windham School Board.
I became concerned while reviewing Windham School Board’s January 6, 2015 meeting packet on the proposed contract with Cenergistic (formerly Energy Education Inc “EEI”). The presentation touted “too good to be true” benefits, without ever providing any details on HOW the benefits would be achieved. A quick internet search also raised questions about this company’s business practices.
In May 2008 then “Energy Education Inc.” gave a presentation to the Fitchburg, MA School board. A newspaper article described a very enthusiastic reference from Londonderry, NH building operations manager Chuck Zappala. Later that year the MA Inspector General received a complaint from Fitchburg about EEI’s marketing practices and contract. The IG’s investigation led the office to release an 18 page special advisory to all MA school districts concerning EEI’s business practices.
Cenergistic,(ie.: EEI), hires numerous current and former Superintendents and other educational professionals around the country as “Marketing Consultants.” There have been many instances where educational professionals’ employment with Cenergistic was not disclosed to client school districts.
A Houston area school Superintendent retired after it was revealed she was being paid $500 for each meeting she arranged between EEI and other school districts. The Polk County, FL Asst. Superintendent was fired after he was found to have been paid by vendors,including “$70,000 in financial payments (from EEI) while doing business with Polk County.”
Londonderry’s Chuck Zappala, has been listed as a reference in Cenergistic (EEI) marketing materials for many years. In last week’s SB meeting, Business Administrator Adam Steel said the Londonderry reference told him “you should sign the contract as soon as you can… they are worth every penny.” (@20:50 of WSB 1/6/15 meeting).
Windham needs to ask Cenergistic who their local Marketing Consultants are, and if any of their references are compensated for their endorsements.
Londonderry signed on with then EEI in 2004. A 2005 Boston Globe article entitled “Prince of Darkness saves cash for district” chronicled the district energy manager Bob Lees making rounds in each of the school buildings to make sure “each window is shut and the lights and computers are turned off for the night…in the beginning, he (Lees) left notes for faculty members who left computers on or who forgot to shut their windows.”
There are many articles which tout the “Behavior Modification” used by Cenergistic including “denying teachers’ requests to have ‘less energy saving’ temperature settings in their classrooms,” keeping vestibule doors closed in winter, limiting the hours school buildings are open, and complete shut down of buildings in the summer.
Several districts have disputed the accuracy of the savings reports generated from the required EnergyCAP (previously owned by Enron) software program. One District disagreed with an EnergyCAP report boasting over $600,000 in savings. The district’s numbers showed they had paid Cenergistic almost $200,000 more than they had saved. Some school districts have terminated their contracts at a very steep price. Greece, NY paid EEI $310,800 for an early contract termination. Sacramento, CA School District paid a $700,000 settlement after being sued by EEI for $1.5 million. The disagreement began when Sacramento questioned the accuracy of the EnergyCAP savings reports. Other districts that disputed their energy savings found they could not afford to pay the steep early termination fees.
Did Energy Education Inc., have to change its name due to its bad reputation? Are the EnergyCAP software savings reports inaccurate? What happens if the district does not want to implement their suggestions? Are some of Cenergistic’s business practices unethical? Who do they have on their payroll? How steep are the termination fees? Is it the best use of Windham Taxpayer money to limit the use of our buildings, and employ a “Prince of Darkness” to write notes to remind people to turn off lights?
Windham Taxpayers have suffered tremendously this past decade as the school board, at the behest of the administration,has repeatedly made hasty decisions with no due diligence,ultimately costing the taxpayers millions. I would implore the school board to refrain from signing this contract. We simply cannot afford another “Portables” fiasco.
Eileen A. Mashimo