Finalized energy project could save $1.7 million

BELLEFONTE — An energy savings project that began in 2017 in Centre County recently reached completion. On Tuesday, the commissioners heard all about it in a wide-ranging Project Completion Report, which was presented by the county’s deputy administrator, Bob Jacobs.

In the comprehensive report, Jacobs talked about the county’s partnership with the McClure Company, which was charged with executing the projects, which took place mostly at the Centre County Courthouse, the Centre County Correctional Facility and the Willowbank Building.

Jacobs said that project was made possible through Pennsylvania Act 39, the Guaranteed Energy Savings Act.

The multiple projects began with an energy audit, which was conducted by McClure Company, which has offices in State College and Harrisburg. According to Jacobs, working with a local entity like McClure Company aided in the projects running smoothly. Jacobs was joined for the presentation by McClure’s Shayne Homan, vice president of energy services and Chris Howe, project manager.

“Centre County endeavored into 10 energy conservation measures. These 10 projects were identified as part of the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program,” Jacobs said.

Some of the projects included were: Upgrading the county buildings to LED lighting, county-wide building envelope upgrades, courthouse HVAC, upgrading the hot water heaters at the correctional facility, HVAC and new boilers at the Willowbank Building and complete re-make of the sheriff’s office.

Jacobs said that the sheriff’s office was a massive project in itself as it needed extensive repairs, including new heating/cooling controls, ceiling repairs, new windows and doors.

“The sheriff’s office was in very bad disrepair. This project really created an entirely new working environment and working space for the sheriff’s office. There were new windows and a roof that was replaced. It was well worth the effort,” Jacobs said.

All told, the projects cost $4.7 million, but will ultimately save the county $1.7 million.

Jacobs said that the energy savings in electric usage are noticeable. At the correctional facility, the county spent $168,666 in 2016. That dropped to $139,252 in 2017, $112,623 in 2018 and $94,775 in 2019. At Willowbank Building, the county spent $115,000 in 2016, $103,600 in 2017, $84,456 in 2018 and $79,767 in 2019. At the courthouse, the county spent $37,517 in 2016, $37,173 in 2017, $25,202 in 2018 and $20,515 in 2019.

“At the prison, we’re saving almost 40 percent, at Willowbank, 50 percent, at the courthouse, it’s almost 40 percent in savings. Everything, to date, seems to be running a little more efficiently,” Jacobs said.

According to Jacobs, the most challenging projects were those at the courthouse.

“The courthouse was the big, heavy lift. It’s not easy working on a historically significant building that is constantly occupied,” Jacobs said.

The McClure Company representatives said that the lengthy project went smoothly overall.

“The project went well,” said Howe. “We had access to what we needed when we needed it. All the occupants were more than helpful giving us access to their offices or any other areas.”

He also said it was nice having the project in McClure’s backyard.

“Our crews — many Centre County men and woman — they were glad that for more than a year they got to work a nice traveling distance from home,” Howe said.