Energy company says it can save county thousands

Published 12:25 am Tuesday, March 28, 2017


NATCHEZ — An energy company projects it can save the county between $57,682 and $70,482 per year by upgrading various county facilities including the courthouse and jail.

Schneider Electric sales team leader Allie Pierce  presented to county supervisors last week an energy upgrade proposal in which the energy savings would pay for the upgrades over time.

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“You have a choice, do you keep paying this money to utility companies, or do you buy the things you need?” Pierce said.

Board of Supervisors President Mike Lazarus said he likes that Schneider guarantees the savings.

“If we don’t have savings, you pay us,” Lazarus said. “We’ll take all the money we can get. We have crumbling roads just like every other county.”

The county is spending approximately $241,000 each year on energy, with two of the biggest drains being the courthouse and the jail. The jail is costing approximately $97,000 each year and the courthouse approximately $62,300.

Pierce projects upgrades to key infrastructure could save 25 to 30 percent overall for nine county buildings. The savings at the courthouse would be upward of 35 to 40 percent, or approximately $21,600 to $26,400, the company projected. Over 15 to 25 years, the savings would be $1 million to $2 million, which would help secure the upfront funding necessary. Pierce said the upgrades could be financed through many flexible funding sources such as a tax-exempt lease purchase and an Mississippi Development Authority Energy Efficiency Lease Program.

Entergy Mississippi could also offer the county rebates on the upgrades, said Jessica Dolton with Entergy Solutions.

“There are lots of ways Entergy can help,” Dolton said.

Pierce said upgrades include HVAC renovations, electrical renovations, LED lighting countywide, smart building controls, extensive envelope sealing and plumbing renovations to save on water.

With the MDA lease program, Peirce said no upfront cost or out-of-pocket expenses are necessary, as the project can be paid off as savings are achieved, which Schneider guarantees and the company would pick up any shortfall.

Pierce said Schneider Electric has performed 600 successful projects around the U.S. and 22 in the state of Mississippi.  Pierce said the company has not been involved in litigation with customers in the 25 years the company has been performing this service.

After being asked by supervisors, Pierce said the company tries to use local subcontractors and buy local supplies when possible, but they would bring in their own engineers and construction managers.

The board unanimously approved issuing a request for qualifications with the intent to select an energy services company to design and implement an energy savings performance contract, which would require a public notice.

Pierce said this step did not obligate the county to spend any money.

District 3 Supervisor Angela Hutchins said she has been to county facilities where similar work has been completed. Hutchins said she liked how the systems could program the lights to turn on and shut off at a certain time, and also how the sensors could detect people in the room and power on or off.

“I feel like this is a good project,” Hutchins said. “(District 3) Supervisor (Ricky) Gray and I have gone to different counties to see how it works. It is amazing.”