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County hopes to cut energy costs

ESCANABA — The implementation of a new energy efficiency program, which is expected to create significant annual savings for Delta County, will be completed at the Delta County Courthouse and Delta County Airport later this year.

Delta County Administrator Ryan Bergman said the improvements being made to the courthouse should create $25,604 in utility savings, $42,253 in operational savings, and $53,211 in replacement cost avoidance on average each year. At the airport, the improvements are expected to create $11,302 in utility savings, $10,313 in operational savings, and $917 in replacement cost avoidance on average each year.

A significant portion of the costs for the program were paid for out of the county’s Capital Outlay Fund, Bergman said.

“The courthouse project was $971,000, and the airport project was $275,000,” he said.

Bergman said the county has been adding to this fund for six or seven years to prepare for the program’s implementation. Because of this, almost 60 percent of the cost of implementing this program at the courthouse (roughly $571,000) was paid for in cash; the remaining $400,000 was paid for through a low-interest energy services loan from the State of Michigan. All costs associated with implementing the program at the airport were paid for out of the Airport Fund.

Energy services company Trane has been responsible for making energy efficiency improvements to county facilities as part of this program, a process which has been ongoing since November 2016. They have subcontracted most of this work out to companies in the Delta County area. So far, these efforts have been primarily (but not entirely) focused on the airport.

“We’re really close to wrapping up the airport,” Trane Applications Engineer Matt Johnson said.

As of early March, work on this program has been going smoothly.

“Everything here so far has been as expected,” Johnson said. He also noted that, if things continue in this manner, work at both facilities should be finished in May.

Delta County Maintenance Director Cory Schroeder said some of the biggest upgrades that will be made is installation of new heating control systems at the courthouse and airport.

“We’re pretty much doing all new control work for the heating (systems),” he said. These buildings’ older, pneumatic control systems will be replaced by direct digital control systems, which will be much more efficient than their predecessors. Additionally, members of the county’s maintenance staff will be able to remotely control and monitor these systems.

“It’ll be able to be controlled now by a tablet or a phone,” Bergman said.

A new chiller will be installed to replace the courthouse’s current chiller, which has passed the end of its listed useful life.

“It takes care of the air conditioning for the courthouse,” Schroeder said of the chiller’s function.

Unlike the heating control system, the chiller used for the courthouse’s air conditioning is not actually located there. Instead, it is located outside the Delta County Correctional Facility.

Despite its location, the chiller is not used for air conditioning at the county jail; as a result, this replacement does not constitute an upgrade to that facility.

“We’re putting no dollars into the (old) jail,” Bergman said.

Over 200 LED lighting fixtures will be installed across the courthouse and airport as part of this project, as well. Johnson said that replacing inefficient lighting fixtures has created major cost savings in other projects implemented by Trane.

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