Savings fail to shine from light work

JOHNSTOWN – An extensive lighting project implemented in 2009 never saved Fulton County government the $85,000 annually it was estimated to save, a county official said last week.

Superintendent of Highways and Facilities Mark Yost reviewed energy savings from the countywide lighting project with the Board of Supervisors’ Buildings and Grounds-Highway Committee.

Yost didn’t have a figure on actual savings.

The county in 2009 entered into a contract with SmartWatt of Schenectady for the project. It was supposed to generate savings, but Yost said the project “came up short.”

The total cost to Fulton County for the project was $179,158. Annual savings of $85,693 after project completion were anticipated.

Yost said these were not guaranteed savings, but rather savings based on computations using fixture consumption along with estimated hours of use. The project introduced more energy-efficient bulbs to the county buildings.

“We did not see the $85,000 in savings,” Yost said. “Instead of two years to pay off, it will take five. But I think it’s been a great project.”

He said the county in 2011 saw a drop of 201,190 kilowatt hours over the base year of 2008, and a drop of 237,301 kilowatt hours in 2012. But he said variables such as air conditioning and other electric loads, such as employees using personal heaters, prevented him from doing a clear-cut analysis of total savings.

Energy matter

In another energy matter, the committee authorized requests for proposal to select an energy-service company. The Department of Highways and Facilities’ capital plan contains a countywide energy-efficiency project. The full board will consider authorizing the RFP process Aug. 12. State energy law provides for performance contracting for public buildings.

Proposals will be due at 2 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Board of Supervisors’ chambers. The committee will review the energy-service proposals Sept. 30.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at