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Grundy County to save energy costs

Published: Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 5:30 a.m. CST

MORRIS – New light bulbs and electrical fixtures could save Grundy County more than $23,000 a year, according to a recent audit of the county’s electrical usage.

To make the cost-saving updates, the county must apply for two grants from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity that would pay for up to $75,000 of the replacement costs.

“I think this is a very good opportunity for the county,” said Heidi Miller, interim administrator and land use director for Grundy County. “But the deadline for this grant is coming up soon so we need to move very quickly.”

March 14 marks the last day the county would be able to apply for a $31,000 DCEO grant.

The remaining $44,000 would be provided through a DCEO rebate once the project is finished, Miller said.

The energy audit was conducted by Tina Persin, senior energy strategist for Genesis Energy, who looked at a year’s worth of electricity bills and did a walk-through of the administration building, 1320 Union St. in Morris, to inspect the current light fixtures.

She found that many of the county’s fixtures were outdated and not working at maximum efficiency.

“Some of the light bulbs we are using, they don’t even make anymore,” Miller said. “These were things we probably needed to update anyway.”

Persin said some of the county’s current fixtures use 144 watts and have a longevity of about 20,000 hours.

The replacements would use only 48 watts and would last anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 hours, saving the county as much as two-thirds on its energy bill.

“The county would also see a savings in maintenance costs,” Persin said. “With the fixtures lasting longer, they would need to be replaced and repaired less often.”

Miller said many of the building’s fixtures are original and haven’t been updated since the structure was built.

If the county applies and qualifies for the DCEO grant, its share of the project cost would be about $7,000, Miller said.

“All of this is hinged on us getting that grant,” Miller said. “If we apply, we would know by April 10 whether or not we would receive the funds.”

Persin said she also noticed the county is paying certain taxes on its electric bills that, as a registered nonprofit, it should not be paying.

“This is something that definitely needs to be looked into because they are a not for profit and, to my understanding, should not be paying those,” Persin said.

Persin presented the results of the audit at the last Grundy County Finance Committee meeting, but the committee will vote on whether to move forward with the project at this Monday’s meeting.

If everything goes through, Genesis could begin replacing fixtures by this spring.

“Once funding is secure, they could have everything done pretty quickly,” Miller said.

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