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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Lincoln school district officials are looking to stem energy costs at three high schools that have spiked by an estimated $60,000 more a year from when the systems were first installed.

The Lincoln Board of Education will consider a $1.1 million proposal on Tuesday to add cooling equipment to the geothermal systems at Lincoln North Star, Southwest and Southeast high schools.

The schools have ground-source heat pumps that use the ground to heat and cool water, which is then circulated through pipes to regulate temperature. District officials have noticed in recent years that the buildings' circulated water was warmer than it should be because of overuse, especially in the summer, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

"We've been watching this for several years," said Scott Wieskamp, the district's operations director. "We cannot afford to let the well fields heat up."

No other schools in the district have found similar issues with their geothermal systems, Wieskamp said.

District officials considered adding more water pipes to the wells, but the option is more expensive and it wouldn't cool the ground as quickly. Officials are instead looking into purchasing equipment to help cool the water before sending it back through pipes into the wells, according to Wieskamp.

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The equipment would be mounted on the schools' roofs to supplement the cooling process in the ground.

"I know it's a big investment, but I don't feel that it's a bad investment," Wieskamp said. "I think it's a course correction."


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star,

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