County reduces energy expenses

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

The Franklin County Commissioners have announced that energy-saving initiatives which started in 2009 have saved taxpayers over $200,000. Since early 2009, the county has implemented peak hour energy cutbacks for major HVAC systems, turned back hot water heaters and boilers, reduced interior and exterior lighting usage at every county building, and replaced more than 50 outdated air conditioning units with Energy Star rated units throughout the county.

As a result, the county has saved over $85,000 in electricity and related costs, and over $120,000 on natural gas/propane purchases.  By reducing its natural gas consumption by over 4 million cubic feet, the county is also reducing its carbon footprint by reducing green house gases that are harmful to the atmosphere.  

“Franklin County understands the need to continue to reduce its energy consumption as good stewards of the environment and of taxpayer dollars,” said David Keller, chairman of the Board of Commissioners. Toward this end, the Commissioners authorized staff recently to move forward with plans to implement further energy conservation initiatives at the Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (FSNRC).

The FSNRC will receive modern energy upgrades with all new windows and a total boiler system replacement.  Electrical infrastructure will also be upgraded for improved life safety purposes.  “The FSNRC is operating with original 1969 equipment for the windows and boilers and they are in need of replacement not only for energy efficiency but also better patient care,” reported John Hart, Chief Administrator for the county.  The electrical system will be upgraded to use new dedicated lines for health equipment similar to what hospitals use.  The estimated cost to upgrade the FSNRC's windows, boilers, and electrical infrastructure is $1.5 million, which will be funded by Recovery Zone Bonds.  Based on the current cost of utilities, these improvements will result in savings at the FSNRC of approximately $100,000 per year.

“Given the 7-10 year return on investment that is expected for this project, which is a very conservative figure based on today's energy costs, and the fact that patient care and life safety will be greatly enhanced, I think the proposed improvements will be a very prudent use of taxpayer dollars,” Commissioner Bob Thomas said.