El Paso County saves energy, but how much?

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El Paso County announced in a press release Friday it's saving a lot of energy by making its facilities more efficient. But the county can't say how much money will actually be saved.

El Paso County energy savings
  • Jim Orsini

Absent from the release is any dollar figure in savings and when asked about it, spokesman Joel Quevillon writes in an e-mail: "That’s a question we don’t have an answer for today. We’ll have to contact staff and put some numbers and info together next week."

Nor does the press release tell taxpayers how much the county is spending on the energy savings. However, the Indy obtained a breakdown several days ago, which shows it's spent $2.3 million of the $7.7 million it plans to spend on energy "performance contracting."

Here's the release:

Tejon street traffic detours signs between Vermijo and Costilla during the weekend of June 8-10, 2012 were also highly visible signs of El Paso County’s ongoing program to save money and energy by making its facilities more energy efficient. The detours were in place to allow the installation of underground pipes necessary to connect the Robert L. Russel Professional building to El Paso County’s highly efficient Central Utilities Plant (CUP) which now provides heating and cooling for buildings throughout the County’s downtown Colorado Springs campus.

"Connecting the Russell building to the C.U.P. will result in significant energy savings for many years to come," said Deputy County Administrator Monnie Gore. "It also allows us to remove a number of old, inefficient air conditioning units on the roof of the building which are well beyond their useful life expectancy."

While the installation of the pipes in Tejon Street is a large highly visible energy efficiency improvement, nearly all county buildings and facilities have received money-saving energy efficiency upgrades, many of which are much less visible. These upgrades range from installation of new technology light bulbs and motion sensing light switches which turn off lights automatically when a room is not use to computerized control of heating and cooling to reduce utilities consumption when buildings or portions of building are not in use.

Funding for energy efficiency upgrades has come from a variety of sources including operational savings recognized within County offices and departments, performance contracting where reduced utilities costs are guaranteed by the contractor to pay for the upgrades, an energy efficiency grant and improvements made as part the 2010 Strategic Moves Initiative.

El Paso County Facilities is responsible for the operation of 275 buildings totaling more than 4.2 million square feet. Facilities maintained by the County range from small equipment storage buildings to the Criminal Justice Center and the Terry R. Harris Judicial Complex. El Paso County Facilities Maintenance also provides routine maintenance and operations services for a number of City of Colorado Springs facilities through an Intergovernmental Agreement with the City.

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