County officials are at looking ways to save taxpayer money by eliminating energy waste.
When the Genesee County Legislature meets at 7 tonight in the Old Courthouse, it will vote on a pair of resolutions aimed at greater energy efficiency.
The county has an opportunity to apply for up to $500,000 in federal stimulus funds to upgrade energy infrastructure. The county must also identify what changes can be made in its facilities to achieve the greatest energy savings.
To get help in applying for stimulus funds and to study the county's energy needs, the legislature will vote on whether to approve a pair of contracts with Wendel Energy Services, which has offices in Buffalo, Long Island and Washington, D.C..
"From past experience, I can say we might spend $100,000 to $1 million, but we'll get back more than $1 million over the course of 10 years in savings," said Assistant County Manager Frank Ciaccia.
He said it's impossible right now to put a precise figure on possible savings. "That's what the study will tell us," he said, but it's clear the potential is there.
The study will cost $58,800, but half of that will be paid by a New York energy agency. Applying for the stimulus grants will cost $2,500.
Every building the county owns -- from the fairly new courts facility and the Sheriff's Park Road office, to the Holland Land Office Museum and the Old Courthouse -- would be evaluated by Wendel Energy Services.
The firm has already identified several areas of concern in Genesee County, from inefficient lighting (perhaps too much lighting for a particular room, or a lack of timers and motion detectors to automatically turn off lights) to outdated heating/air-conditioning units. The jail, for example, had its boiler installed in 1984. The county is interested in investigating the cost and return-on-investment of installing a modern boiler.
A key part of the study would be determining which energy projects to fund. Obviously, one consideration is whether the county plans to keep the building. For example, if the county decided it would need a new jail facility within 20 years, replacing the boiler may not be a priority.
"One of our goals is to look at the payback over 10 years and how long we expect to stay in a building," Ciaccia said. "If we decide we won't be in those buildings, that will influence our decision not to select those projects."
The Genesee County Nursing Home is not included in the study package since the county's continued ownership of that facility is currently in doubt. The nursing home could be re-included at some point, Ciaccia said, if a decision is made to keep it.