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Energy saving plan may allow county to upgrade

By By JOHN DILMORE JR. Managing Editor
The County Commission is hoping to have new, more energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting equipment installed in some of Escambia County's government buildings by next summer -- at no additional cost, at least not in the long run.
The board has been studying a proposal by Southern Energy Solutions that would allow for the replacement of current heating and cooling units with newer equipment.
According to the proposal, the savings the county would realize by putting more efficient equipment in place would be enough to pay for the new units within approximately 10 years.
Commission Chairman Larry White said that the proposal is definitely worth looking into.
The buildings being considered for equipment replacement are the courthouse, the courthouse annex and the detention center.
The Southern Energy Solutions proposal is still in the early stages, and figures have not yet been finalized. But preliminary numbers show that to replace equipment in the courthouse with more energy efficient units would cost $355,000.
The new equipment would then save the county from $27,000 to $33,500 per year.
At the jail, replacement costs would be $175,000, and the annual savings afterward are estimated to be from $16,500 to $21,000.
The figures in the proposal do not factor in additional savings the county would hope to realize by having newer equipment that would not require as much maintenance work. White said the county currently spends about $10,000 a year keeping its utilities repaired.
The commission voted unanimously Monday to allow White, County Attorney Thad Moore and County Administrator Tony Sanks to look more closely at the proposal, and to work with Southern Energy Solutions in studying the matter more closely.
That allows the company to put together a more exact proposal, in terms of costs and potential savings, which the board can then accept or reject.
If more study by the company does not show a savings to the county, there will be no charge to the county for the research, White said.