BEMIDJI -- Bemidji State University has received an energy efficiency rebate of more than $320,000 from Otter Tail Power Company as part of that company’s Conservation Improvement Program.

Travis Barnes, the university’s director of facilities, says the $323,042 rebate will help BSU continue to pursue energy-efficiency projects across campus.

“We will be taking these dollars and reinvesting them into other projects,” Barnes said in a release. “And we want to be sure that we are continuing to pursue projects that will help us keep this going for as long as Otter Tail has a rebate program.”

Since 2017, Bemidji State has undertaken a broad variety of energy conservation projects that have helped the campus reduce its energy consumption by nearly 6% and reduce its average monthly energy bill by nearly 7%.

Many of these projects have involved conversions of campus light sources to LEDs. BSU has installed more than 12,000 four-foot LED lights over the last two years, converting nearly 40% of campus interior lighting to LED. And a recent $182,000 project to replace lighting in BSU’s Gillett Wellness Center on its own will save the university more than $34,000 in annual energy costs and reduce energy usage by more than 400,000 kilowatts per year, a release said.

Barnes said one of the first projects BSU aims to tackle with the rebate funding is conversion of the BSU Gymnasium to LED lighting, a project expected to cost around $100,000. While the energy savings provide financial and environmental benefits for the campus, Barnes said the projects done over the last two years are helping set the stage for larger projects in the future.

“If we want to put solar panels onto a building, it doesn’t make sense to do that if the building has inefficient lighting and outdated electrical control systems,” he said in the release. “These projects are creating the infrastructure that will make larger projects feasible in the future.”

Roger Garton, senior commercial and industrial representative for Otter Tail, praised BSU for its energy conservation work.

“It’s not often that we get such large energy savings gains in such a short period of time,” Garton said in the release.