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Energy-efficient projects expected to reduce costs in Martinsburg

June 14, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • Bulb and globe replacements to lights in Martinsburg, W.Va., will be completed this summer as part of a citywide energy-efficiency initiative to reduce utility costs.
By Matthew Umstead, Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Martinsburg City Recorder Gena Long did not need to turn the lights on last week when she walked into the J. Oakley Seibert Council Chambers at City Hall. A sensor in the dark, windowless room detected her entry, which triggered a single line of ceiling lights to automatically illuminate as Long walked toward the table where she sits to take minutes of council meetings. The motion-activated lighting system recently was installed as part of a series of energy-efficiency projects to reduce utility costs generated by property owned or at least maintained by the city. City Manager Mark Baldwin said he expects all of the work to be completed within the next few months. The city borrowed about $1.2 million from Susquehanna Bank for the projects and contracted with Constellation Energy with the objective of saving more in utility costs than the debt incurred, City Finance Director Mark B. Spickler said. The financing arrangement spans about 15 years, and the agreement with Constellation includes guaranteed savings for the city, Spickler said. “If it doesn’t happen, then (the company is) on the hook,” Spickler said. Constellation has projected about $1.6 million in savings for the city over 14 years, according to documents outlining the project. The city received a $77,100 federal stimulus grant for City Hall¿s energy-efficiency program, but the total project will have an impact at practically every city-owned building, including the historic Market House at Burke and Queen streets, Caperton train station and office suites, and water, sewer, police and fire department facilities, according to a project summary released Tuesday by Baldwin. While much of the work might go unnoticed by residents, Baldwin said the project also includes the retrofitting of traffic and pedestrian signals with LED lights, replacement of bulbs and globes on downtown decorative lighting and upgrades to lights beneath the railroad tracks passing over North Queen Street. Street and traffic lighting retrofits have been estimated by Constellation to result in the most savings in electric capacity, with a combined total of 82 kilowatts annually, according to the project summary. Aside from lighting improvements, energy-efficiency projects include installation of a solar water heater, insulated bay doors and duct insulation at the city¿s fire station, infrared radiant heating at the water treatment plant and new rooftop heating/cooling/ventilation units at City Hall and the fire station.

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