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Legislators hear energy efficiency report, consider $2 million upgrade project

Montgomery County legislators heard a presentation Tuesday from representatives of an energy efficiency company proposing to save the county nearly $200,000 per year by replacing outdated windows, boilers and other equipment with newer, more efficient items.

“Right now you’re spending about $568,000 a year in energy and water costs, and this project will save about $190,000,” Bill Clark, project manager at Ballston Lake-based SmartWatt, told legislators. “It’s interesting as to why we include water in this. Water takes up about a third of your utility costs. So for this project, we’re looking at a 23 percent reduction in electric costs, 12 percent in gas and 31 percent in water.”

Clark and Greg Royer, an account executive at SmartWatt, presented an “investment-grade audit” report to legislators Tuesday as a followup to a feasibility study the company performed last year. Legislators voted then to proceed to the next step, the investment-grade audit. Royer said that once the legislature accepts the audit, the financing can be put in place and construction, which is expected to take eight months, can begin.

The entire project is expected to cost about $2.1 million, he said.

“Probably the biggest item was to replace all the antiquated equipment with new, high-performing equipment,” Royer said. “A lot of the equipment we found as we were going through the audit was at the end of its useful life.”

Royer said the existing building automation system would be improved by adding new “controllers” provided by Johnson Controls Inc.

“As we add new equipment, we’ll be updating the controllers so they can be retrofitted with new equipment,” he said. “As you replace equipment over time, you’ll be able to plug right into those controllers as well.”

The proposed new equipment includes boilers at both the old court house and the new court house and a furnace at the county’s workshop. The new furnaces will be 93 percent efficient, which is higher than the current rate of 80 percent.

“We’ll work very closely with Johnson Controls on the project … and include them in the process,” Royer said.

Replacing one of three water heaters in the building is also on the list; the other two will remain as backups. Royer said the new unit would increase the efficiency from 82 percent to 94 percent..

A new cooling system in the county court house would replace several window-mounted air conditioners, and LED lighting will be installed in several county buildings as well, he said.

The proposed financing for the project includes incentives from National Grid for the electrical work and reimbursement from the Unified Court System for work on the court houses, Royer said.

About John Becker

John Becker is both a Reporter and Consulting Editor for The Compass. He and his wife Pat operate Abbey Farms in Amsterdam NY.

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