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July 21, 2010

 

County considers energy upgrades

Legislators want more info on $2.5 million project to replace lighting, boilers

By CATHERINE WILDE
Staff Reporter
cwilde@cortlandstandard.net

For nearly $2.5 million, the County Office Building, Courthouse and Public Safety Building would receive lighting upgrades and boiler replacements by early 2012 if legislators approve an agreement with the New York Power Authority next month.
At a special meeting Tuesday of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, NYPA Project Manager Dave Laney told legislators the county would pay off loans from the project in 10 years through annual payments of approximately $300,130 to NYPA through its financing plan.
Laney projects that the county would recapture its expense over 26.5 years with energy savings of approximately $113,211 annually.
NYPA cannot guarantee the energy savings because it does not know how the county will use its buildings, Laney said.
According to the project time line, the bidding could be done in September of this year and construction would begin in September 2011 with the project completed by November 2011.
Since legislators on the committee had not received the final design plan from the Power Authority’s Amherst-based engineering consultant, Wendel Energy Services, they did not endorse the project Tuesday but will review it in depth at a special meeting in August.
Officials are also considering if the needed upgrades could be done in other ways at less of a cost, for example in-house or through a private company.
Maintenance Department Supervisor Brian Parker said the boilers need to be replaced and the new energy management system would allow for greater temperature control throughout the buildings.
The two boilers that heat the Courthouse, dating back to 1973 and 1987, are approaching the end of their life span. Four other boilers that heat the county office building are from 1987, said Parker, and would be replaced with two more efficient boilers under the plan.
The boilers would be replaced at a cost of approximately $622,330.
Parker said energy upgrades in the Courthouse and County Office Building would increase temperature control.
Because of the way the County Office Building’s temperature is currently controlled by a panel zoned for the auditorium, gymnasium, third floor and the rest of the building, Parker said the system is not a precise way to heat the building.
The new system would control the temperature through a more sophisticated computer system.
The energy management upgrades would cost approximately $590,000.
The lighting upgrades at the jail, Courthouse, County Office Building, Department of Public Works and airport would cost a total of $291,011.
A chiller in the air conditioning system would be replaced at the County Office Building for $190,800.
The $2.5 million total cost includes material, labor, design, administrative costs and other incidentals. After financing, the cost is approximately $3 million.
Parker said he thinks NYPA’s plan is a cost-effective solution to the problem.
“This needs to be done and this is probably the most logical solution to the problems,” Parker said.
He pointed to NYPA’s current 0.7 percent interest rate, which is variable and projected to average 4 percent over the 10 years, saying those are good rates.
Parker said if the county does not proceed with the project he will not be able to make any recommendations for how to do the upgrades that would not necessitate the county bonding for the work. He said he does not have staff in-house to do the work.
Legislator Ray Parker (D-2nd Ward) said he wants to see the full report before he makes a decision about whether this is a project he thinks the county should undertake.
“This is a 2 1/2 year project and it does need to be acted on in a timely manner,” he said. But he said Tuesday’s presentation did not give him enough information.
Legislator Eugene Waldbauer (R-Cortlandville) is concerned that the energy savings are not guaranteed.
Waldbauer is also concerned that the upgrades might not yield dramatic enough improvements to merit the expense.

 

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