Berkeley County fails to act on energy-saving project

August 27, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Berkeley County Council declined Thursday to act on a proposal that an energy company estimated could result in 10 percent to 15 percent savings in utility costs.

A motion by Berkeley County Council President William L. "Bill" Stubblefield to proceed with an energy-savings project died for lack of a second.

Aside from Stubblefield, who said he felt the project had "good value" and should be pursued, the other four council members suggested the timing for such a project was not good.

Councilman Douglas E. Copenhaver Jr. said he wanted to explore all options before proceeding with such a proposal, which was pitched by Joe Hudak of Baltimore-based Constellation Energy.

After saying the county needed to be prudent with its money, Councilman James "Jim" Whitacre said he still would be interested in seeing actual "hard numbers" from the energy-savings project that the City of Martinsburg embarked upon recently with Constellation Energy.  

About $1.2 million borrowed from Susquehanna Bank for the city's energy-efficiency projects will be paid back with the savings in utility expenses as part of a lease-purchase agreement, officials have said. Constellation has projected about $1.6 million in savings for the city over a period of 14 years, according to documents outlining the project.

If the savings do not materialize, then Constellation Energy "is on the hook" for the financing, Hudak said.

Hudak said the county could save an estimated $85,000 to $95,000 per year in utility costs based on a preliminary analysis.

City Manager Mark Baldwin said Friday that the utility upgrades outlined in the city's energy-savings project should be in place within the next two months.

Traffic signals in the city already have been retrofitted with LED lights and the replacement of bulbs and globes on downtown decorative lighting is expected to begin soon, Baldwin said.

Upgrades to lights beneath the railroad tracks passing over North Queen Street, the installation of new rooftop heating/cooling/ventilation units at City Hall and the fire station are among several upgrades as part of the project.

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