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School Districts Save Millions With AIU Joint Purchasing Committee

In a time of education budget cuts, several school districts in western Pennsylvania will be saving millions of dollars over the next year by teaming up to lower energy prices. The Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU) has locked in low prices for gasoline, heating oil, and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel for districts throughout the region.

Starting in the 2012-2013 school year, districts will able to purchase gasoline for only $2.65 per gallon, which is about $0.84 cheaper than current prices. Diesel fuel will be available for purchase at $2.86 per gallon and heating oil at $2.87 per gallon.

"That bidding process, introducing that competition to this process, is really what allows us to purchase at prices well below the national averages," said Patrick Sable, Chief Financial Officer for the AIU.

With these new prices, school districts are projected to save approximately $1.29 million next year.

The AIU currently services nine counties in western Pennsylvania. "We have 60 participants. 27 of them are school districts in Allegheny County," Sable said.

The AIU operates four separate joint purchasing groups for natural gas, electricity, diesel fuel and various types of supplies. Last school year, school districts in Allegheny County experienced savings of approximately $4 million, while districts outside of the county saved an estimated $5.9 million in natural gas, electricity, diesel fuel and supplies.

Sable said saving districts money is the number one priority. "We go out to try to get the most competitive bid that we can to help school districts leverage their purchasing power. No one school district will purchase 4.4 million gallons of product. They're usually between 100,000 and 150,000 gallons of product," Sable said.