Fulton County weighs $1.2M energy upgrade

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County government is considering signing a $1.2 million contract with a Clifton Park firm to upgrade energy needs throughout county buildings.

County Superintendent of Highways and Facilities Mark Yost said Wednesday guaranteed energy savings should result in the project paying for itself over 15 years.

“It’s being done just to lessen our dependency on utilities – natural gas and electricity,” Yost said.

The Board of Supervisors’ Highways and Facilities Committee on Monday approved a proposed resolution authorizing a $1.2 million county “energy performance” contract with SmartWatt Energy of Clifton Park. The full board will consider final approval of the energy conservation contract May 12.

Yost said the project will involve several ways the county can try to save energy in the future, but not involve a solar energy project at this time. He said if the county does start to greatly reduce its dependency on electricity, solar needs may be revisited.

“If we do lower our electric load, it will make it easier to look at a solar project in a few years,” Yost said.

The county already has worked with SmartWatt. The board authorized a contract last November to have the firm do an energy audit, in accordance with state energy law, to determine the county’s energy-conservation needs.

SmartWatt officials in late March and early April gave presentations to supervisors, explaining future work the company could do for the county.

The idea is to improve energy efficiency of county buildings while lessening overall energy consumption, officials said.

Much of SmartWatt’s presentations centered on the needs of the County Office Building, County Jail and Department of Social Services’ Cooper Building. More than a dozen energy-conservation measures can be implemented, including having the entire DSS building upgraded with LED technology. Officials said the lighting load will be cut by more than 60 percent.

Future projects may also entail weatherization improvements, including door weather-stripping, window caulking and gravity vent air sealing, sealing the floor and putting a thermal barrier in attic space at the County Office Building and the Fort Johnstown Annex, a fully automated control system of all heating-ventilation-air conditioning equipment at county buildings, and PC load management software to automatically switch off county PCs, monitors, printers and switches when not in use.