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County discusses utility savings

November 16, 2012
By MARK LAW - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - The Jefferson County commissioners Thursday discussed two programs that could save the county about $250,000 a year in electric and other utility bills.

Commissioners received an update from a representative of Johnson Controls about a program that is designed to save the county $120,000 a year in utility costs. The county financed the installation of new lights throughout county buildings using lower-wattage bulbs and the installation of plumbing fixtures that will reduce water consumption. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning units also will be updated.

The state is offering the program to counties throughout the state.

Johnson Controls was selected by the county commissioners to implement the program.

The county is financing the program over 15 years. County Commissioner David Maple said the county will pay $120,000 a year for 15 years to pay for the improvements to reduce utility costs. Maple said Johnson Controls has stated the county will see a minimum savings of $120,000 a year. Maple said the county has set up line items in the budget to track the amount of savings.

"We will be able to track it to make sure we at least break even," he said.

Maple said the county was conservative on what utility-savings projects were selected. If the energy-savings projections work, Maple said the county may proceed with other projects.

"It is a win-win situation. We use less natural resources and pay less in energy costs," Maple said.

Commissioners also were presented a contract by an electric broker that could save the county $130,000 a year. The electric broker went to electric suppliers to get lower rates. The county was paying a higher electric rate at various locations, including the county fair grounds. Some of the electric rates will be cut in half, according to the electric broker.

Commissioners tabled the contract for one week until additional information can be included in the document.

Commissioners also heard from county Engineer James Branagan about a project to replace a section of retaining wall along Permars Run Road (county Road 77).

Commissioners agreed to advertise the project for bids. The estimate is $55,000.

Branagan said a private bridge at the section of collapsed retaining wall fell into the creek. He said the homeowner was told to remove the bridge from the creek. When that didn't happen, Branagan said his crews removed the fallen bridge because it was considered a safety hazard.

Commissioners will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

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