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County considers $5.8M energy savings initiative

Warren County commissioners will consider a $5.8 million contract with Energy Savings Group this Monday, Aug. 19 at 6:30 p.m. 

ESG, which has been reviewing county buildings for several weeks to generate its proposal, presented its findings to members of the county Financial Management Committee on Tuesday night. 

The $5.8 million project was presented in two parts: 1) jail improvements total $3.65 million and can be paid for using money already borrowed for the jail; 2) the remaining $2.17 million will cover all other county buildings and the new debt can be repaid using energy savings, maintenance cost savings and a $25,000 allocation by the county. 

“We’ve been walking through the buildings with contractors for 16 weeks, day in and day out,” said ESG account executive Josh McNeil. “A part of that time, we developed over 25 individual specific solutions. We’ve evaluated a lot of things. Looking at utility consumption, the county spends over $315,000 a year on its main core buildings that we’ve been looking at. The jail is the biggest portion of that.”

Breakdown: jail $199,558; administrative building $50,678; courthouse $35,356; health department $20,542; EMS station one $9,167.

“There’s obviously a lot of room for improvement or I’d like to say, some good opportunity there to create some savings and to be more efficient,” said McNeil, who added the county is overspending approximately $100,000 a year for utilities due to inefficient equipment and lighting. “Another huge, huge, huge aspect of this project is maintenance cost due to aging equipment and unplanned repairs.”

ESG projects the county will save $99,513 in utility costs per year once the improvements have been made with $66,797 in electricity, $10,881 in natural gas, and $21,834 in water/ sewer. With replacement of old equipment, the company projects the county will save another $55,000 a year in maintenance and repair. A total savings of $154,513 per year. 

Savings is projected to cover the majority of the new debt associated with borrowing $2.17 million for a term of 15 years. Over that 15-year period, the project is estimated to save the county more than $2.55 million in energy savings and maintenance costs, while the total project cost, with a 2.70 percent interest rate, will cost $2.72 million. A negative difference of $93,498.

McNeil suggested the county allocate $25,000 a year toward the project out of its general fund.

“In my original presentation, we were counting $50,000 a year for the annual customer allocation – that’s money coming out of the annual maintenance fund to help cash flow the project. That number’s down to $25,000 due to the savings going up and cost going down. I think that’s a big win alone. At the end of the loan, you’ll be $281,000 positive at the end. You’re positive every year.” 

Improvements at the jail include weatherization, HVAC and air quality improvements, roof repair, door locks, security cameras, epoxy shower floors, stainless steel water fixtures, laundry equipment (new washers and dryers), kitchen equipment (new dishwasher and new ice machine), system integration with locks, cameras, etc., window tint on parking lot facing windows, booking shower window added, and a detention door on file storage room.  

HVAC upgrades are also planned for the health department, courthouse, EMS station one, and administrative building. HVAC will be added to Warren County Animal Control’s building, which currently uses window units. 

The project does include “complete recovering” of the administrative building’s roof. However, roofs at the jail, courthouse and health department will be repaired. As explained by McNeil, repair is a cost-saving measure that will extend the life of the roofs and stop the leaks. 

“The jail has a little bit of life left on the roof, so we are going to repair and seal up any problem that you have,” he said

Commissioner Richard Grissom asked if local contractors will be used. 

“Some are,” said McNeil. “With what we do, we try to find the most qualified, most efficient priced contractors that are available and do great work. We utilize local where we can, but we will also be using other contractors as well.”

EMS station two was not included in ESG’s inspection due to it being relatively new construction. It was suggested that ESG examine that station for possible upgrades. 

The $5.8 million contract with ESG will be under consideration by the Warren County Commission during its monthly session Aug. 19 at 6:30 p.m.