Harrison County endorses energy efficiency - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Harrison County endorses energy efficiency

Air conditioning system at courthouse in Gulfport. (Photo source: WLOX News) Air conditioning system at courthouse in Gulfport. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Air conditioning unit at courthouse in Gulfport. (Photo source: WLOX News) Air conditioning unit at courthouse in Gulfport. (Photo source: WLOX News)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

You've got a $ 6.8 million project in front of you that pays for itself. That's what an energy savings consultant told Harrison County supervisors Tuesday. That offer that sounds too good to be true, also comes with a guarantee.

Harrison County buildings and ballfields are wasting thousands of dollars a month with inefficient lights and outdated air conditioning systems. That's the word from consultant, Chris McNeil, who has spent the last three months doing an energy audit.

"In this project, there's 70 buildings with about 38,000 light fixtures that are recommended to be changed through the program," he told the board.

Upgrading the lights at Three Rivers ballfield could save the county $15,000 a year in energy costs.

But the greater savings comes with replacing antiquated air conditioning systems.

"So in Gulfport courthouse, this is the big one. Changing out all the chill water piping in here. Changing out the cooling towers. Upgrading all the control valves. Getting this building to where it's actually operating the way it's supposed to," said McNeil.

Remember that flooding incident in the tax collector's office earlier this year?

Rusty chill pipes run right over the land records office with all those paper files. And that worries the man who oversees all those records.

"We've had experience with the piping there leaking on several occasions. I think Mike and them have tried to patch it. It's cast iron pipe that's rusting out and is very brittle," said chancery clerk, John McAdams. "It's a pretty disastrous thing that can happen to your records. So this is very important."

If the county doesn't realize the promised energy savings, the consultant company is responsible for paying the difference.

"This gives us the best opportunity with the most guarantees, if there ever is any, in regards to moving forward and being prudent with the dollars of the taxpayer," said supervisor, Windy Swetman.

A bond issue will be needed to pay for the up front cost of the energy upgrades. The overall cost of the energy upgrades in Harrison County would be around $6.8 million. Energy consultant McNeil, says the county could expect to save $9 million over a 15 year period, based on lower utility bills and operation expenses.

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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