County to begin $1.2 million energy project

By MICHAEL ANICH

The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN -Fulton County government hopes to start a $1.2 million countywide energy upgrade project by the end of July, a county official said this week.

County Superintendent of Highways and Facilities Superintendent Mark Yost said he is working with county Treasurer Terry Blodgett on financing for the project.

The Board of Supervisors on May 12 authorized a $1.2 million “energy performance” contract with SmartWatt Energy of Clifton Park to do the project. County officials hope the project makes all county facilities more energy efficient.

Yost said the county is about two weeks away from a possible pre-construction meeting with SmartWatt to go over what will need to be done. He said there is no plan to start in any certain county facility or address any particular energy need.

“It could be anything to start,” he said.

Yost has said guaranteed energy savings may result in the project paying for itself over 15 years. He said the project is being undertaken at this time to lessen county government’s dependency on utilities, such as natural gas and electricity. The idea is to improve energy efficiency of county buildings while lessening overall energy consumption, officials said.

“Most of the county buildings are not new, so they’re not very efficient,” board Chairman Rick Argotsinger said Tuesday.

Eventually, he predicted the project will save energy and “a substantial amount of money” for county taxpayers.

The county previously worked with SmartWatt. Supervisors authorized a contract in November to have the firm do an energy audit to determine the county’s energy-conservation needs. SmartWatt officials last spring gave presentations to supervisors, explaining future work the company could do for the county.

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, 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.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.