There was a lot of electricity in the air Monday night that brought rain but Tuesday that rain turned into sunshine as Kent learned that our stimulus funding application for $501,0517 was approved in full to retrofit City buildings for improved energy conservation and efficiency.
We’ve been working for about the last 18 months with a professional energy firm to audit our City operations and buildings in order to come up with a plan to upgrade outdated appliances, mechanical systems, etc. to save money on City utility bills. City Council has set energy reduction goals and put policies in place authorizing staff to make strategic investments in energy equipment in order to control rising utility costs and to serve as a model for progressive energy management programs.
The plan came together late last year and with a payback period from utility savings projected at 6 to 7 years City Council approved the plan as part of the 2010 capital program at a cost of $677,026. Being an opportunistic bunch City staff began looking for possible grant sources to fund portions of the energy upgrades. As luck would have it, just about that time the Federal government announced a round of energy stimulus grants and we jumped at the chance to leverage some of those dollars towards our projects.
And it worked. Here’s the note that I sent City Council as soon as I heard the news this Tuesday evening:
The CIP included the Energy Conservation Project with requested funding in 2010 of $663,000 for The Brewer-Garrett Company. The Energy Conservation Project was proposed to reduce the City’s cost for energy, both electric and natural gas.
The current cost break down per City facility is as follows:
Additionally, at the request of City Council, Brewer-Garrett has investigated the installation of solar hot water heating for Kent Fire Department Station One and the potential of a funding source to offset the cost of the heating unit. The cost estimate for the hot water heating unit is $33,600 which typically has a payback period of between 20 and 30 years. Using a 25-year payback the annual natural gas savings would be in the neighborhood of $1,344 per year. The cost and payback of the solar hot water heating system is not included in the information provided above but will increase the total Energy Conservation Project cost to $686,555 and increase the total payback period from 6.5 to 6.8 years.
Upon initial design of the solar hot water project at the City of Kent’s Fire Station No. 1, Brewer-Garrett looked at the possibility of Solar Thermal Grants from the Ohio Department of Development, Energy Office. These grants are available at the rate of $30 per kBTU of capacity. The system for Station No. 1 was designed to provide 92 kBTU of capacity for the fire station, enough to meet all of their hot water demand in the summer. Unfortunately, the state requires a minimum of 200 kBTU of capacity to qualify for these grants. To install a system of sufficient size to take advantage of this rebate would require more than doubling the size of the current proposed project. This 200 kBTU size would then qualify for $6,000 in state grant money, which would be far less than the increased cost of the project. Brewer-Garrett recommends against making the system any larger, as costs of increasing its size would not only greatly overshadow any grant money, but most of the capacity of the larger system would go wasted.