By Tia Lynn Ivey
Morgan County is moving forward with a $3.2 million energy project anticipated to yield long-term savings in utility costs.
On Tuesday, Aug. 6, the BOC voted unanimously to authorize a resolution allowing county staff to execute a lease purchase agreement with BB&T Bank in the amount of $3,267,000 with a tentative interest rate of 2.41 percent. The loan will be paid off through SPLOST VII.
The project, devised by Schneider Electric, will update utility machinery and equipment to become more energy efficient at several county buildings, including the Morgan County Courthouse, Morgan County Aquatic Center and the Morgan County Public Safety Complex. Schneider Electric has guaranteed the county just under $2.7 million in savings over the next 20 years, coming to about $101,000 a year. Currently, for the Public Safety Complex, Aquatic Center and courthouse, the county pays a total of $434,000 annually in utility bills. After the infrastructure updates are complete, the utility bills for those buildings would drop to $330,000 annually.
These updates, though costly, will be worth in the in the long run, according to County Manager Adam Mestres. According to Mestres, even though the county will invest over $3 million dollars into these upgrades, most of the current equipment and machinery is outdated, worn out and needs to be replaced regardless.
“It has to be done either way, but if we go this route and become more energy efficient we will save a good bit money over the next two decades,” explained Mestres.
According to Mestres, these updates are long over due.
“Essentially what we want to do is to take care of some of our deferred needs that we put off the last several years when money was especially tight because we didn’t want to pass on that burden of costs to the taxpayers,” said Mestres. “This is a way we can take care of our maintenance needs without having any significant increases in taxation.”
Once the project moves forward, all three buildings will switch to LED lighting. The courthouse’s two boilers will be replaced. The Aquatic Center’s dehumidification system will be replaced. The public safety complex will have a new HVAC system installed and some building automation installed. “These are essential, critical components that we need to have replaced. They are well past their life-spans,” said Mestres. “This would help solve some of our long standing issues and help us save money in the long run,” said Mestres.