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Energy-Saving Projects Move Forward for the County

by and on September 11, 2018 5:00 AM

The Centre County Commissioners have agreed to proceed with a $4.7 million project that will update some of the county's older buildings with energy-saving improvements, with plans to cut energy costs and save the county money in the long run.

Pennsylvania Act 39-2010 encourages government units to leverage wasted utility dollars to fund building improvements through energy-savings opportunities. The project will be guaranteed by the contractor, the McClure Company, to offset energy costs for the county for 20 years.

The project will be taking place at 12 of the county buildings and include:

■ Adding LED lighting that would cost $510,00, but is projected to save the county more than $1.5 million over a 20-year period

■ County-wide building envelope upgrades that would look at the windows and doors to make them more energy-efficient

■ Replacing the HVAC system at the courthouse

■ Adding a fluid cooler at the prison that would make the geothermal system run more efficiently, as well as replacing the domestic water heating system at the prison and kitchen rooftop unit, which will improve ventilation

■ At the Willowbank Building, adding a make-up air unit that would take fresh air, condition it and circulate it through the building, along with fluid cooler and boiler upgrades

■ At the Sheriff's Office, completing office heating and control upgrades, window replacement and office repairs

There was a plan to add a solar panel project outside of the prison that was projected to save $3.1 million to $3.5 million in energy costs over a 20-year timeframe, but director of planning Bob Jacobs said they have decided to put a hold on that for the moment because energy costs have come down since the county switched energy suppliers.

“Since we received a new electric suppler, the rates have come down low enough that we are right now going to take another look at that, and right now do that as a second bit,” Jacobs said.

"It is pretty clear that if you look at all of them, some of them are going to be bigger returns than others," said Commissioner Steven Dershem. "The LED lighting obviously is a huge one, the HVAC system at the courthouse, which I think that boiler goes back to 1960-something. So, I am sure the savings there are going to be huge, which we can enjoy. And while we do that, we are going to hopefully be able to integrate some of our upgrades as far as remodeling. So, as far as I am concerned, these are all pretty viable projects.”

“This will be the single largest investments into the Centre County energy infrastructure in quite some time, and it is going to serve not only us today, but well into the future,” said Chairman Commissioner Mike Pipe.

Added Commissioner Mark Higgins, “Between choosing the new electric supplier and these 11 projects, we have the potential to save the citizens of Centre County several million dollars over a 20-year period in energy costs.”

Originally a roof replacement was part of the contract with the McClure Company, but the county has decided to use David Maine as the contractor for the roof replacement. Maine's bid was $4,000 more, but it has a 30-year warranty, as opposed to a 20-to 25-year warranty from McClure. The bid from Maine also included a thicker roofing material and thinker insulation, offering a better roof for a slightly higher price, according to Jacobs.

The roof, LED light replacement and boiler replacement will begin in the Willowbank Building in September, with the rest of the projects to follow.

The McClure Company has a long history of working with other counties on energy programs, and worked with the Bald Eagle Area School District on a $2.3 million project from 2002 to 2014.

For more information, visit

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Vincent Corso is writer for Town&Gown and the Centre County Gazette.
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