The Tamaqua Area School District is reaping benefits of a $5.7-million geothermal conversion project, according to a representative of PPL who says the district has cut oil consumption by 87 percent.

Shayne Homan of McClure Company, Harrisburg, a subsidiary of PPL Energy Services, presented to the Tamaqua Area Board of Education on Tuesday the combined financial highlights of two phases of the district's Guaranteed Energy Savings Project.

The program, begun in June, 2009, included the conversion of Tamaqua Area High School to geothermal heating and cooling along with Phase 2, which began in June, 2011, and included converting Tamaqua and West Penn elementary schools to geothermal along with other upgrades.

"McClure Company is contractually obligated to guarantee annual energy savings," Homan explained to the directors during a detailed presentation accompanied by projection visuals.

Homan said the program has exceeded projections.

For example, he said, the first year's projected guaranteed savings of $179,525 for Phase 1 actually turned out to be $222,100 in measured savings.

Similarly, Phase 2 had a guaranteed savings of $108,882, but actual measured savings were $125,851, or $16,969 above the guarantee, said Homan.

Plus, he said, electrical consumption savings were realized even though cooling capabilities were added to the high school, and even though both Tamaqua and West Penn elementary schools were converted to geothermal.

The project was aided by a PPL Act 129 rebate of $248,347 and a $740,000 loan through the Department of Community and Economic Development. All of that helped bring good news to the district.

"When you combine the two phases together, the total energy savings is $796,009 since 2009," said Homan.

It was noted that three areas of the district still use oil. They are Rush Elementary, the football stadium and the administration building.

In other action, the board is expected to accept a $10,000 anonymous donation to help defray the cost of the Pay to Participate program.

The board also is expected to okay a letter of commitment from the golf boosters to financially support the golf program for 2012-13.

The board also will approve an agreement with Misericordia University's nursing program to place Olga Melnikova at Tamaqua Elementary School to complete a 60-hour clinical experience beginning in September. Geraldine Homa will serve as Melnikova's clinical educator.