Energy savings could exceed $500K

A lengthy process came to fruition Tuesday as the Elk County Commissioners approved an energy-saving initiative that could save county officials and taxpayers over $500,000 in the next 20 years."Bekki Titchner and I have been developing a plan to make the county buildings as energy-efficient as possible," said Jodi Foster, community and economic development coordinator for the county's planning department. "In doing so, we have hired a company called FIT Optimized Solutions to do an energy audit to tell us what the best solutions are for us to make our buildings more energy-efficient. "They have since provided us with a contract so that we can do the work that they recommend."The total project is "quite comprehensive" and includes retrofitting for lighting and water, as well as some equipment replacements at the Elk County Courthouse and Courthouse Annex as part of capital improvement projects. The total project price tag is $842,019."It sounds like a lot of money but when you consider that this is for three buildings that really haven't had a whole lot of work done to them, it's not that bad," Foster said. "The nice part about this program is the energy savings that we will see will help to pay back the cost of making the improvements. The total project should be paid back in 13.9 years. "Once all the lighting is replaced, we'll be saving money on electricity, and with other improvements we'll then be seeing savings on water and gas."In addition, according to Titchner, the county's recycling/solid waste coordinator, officials were able to negotiate a "better deal" for electricity which "in the next two years will save the county approximately $21,000."Officials are anticipating all the work to be completed within a six-month timeframe. Pick up a copy of the Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.