Montco is cutting its energy use in half, commissioner says

An aggressive package of energy-saving initiatives is expected to cut the county's electric bill in half, Commissioners Chairman Josh Shapiro says.

In a speech to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Shapiro described some of the energy-savings actions taken at the county's four office buildings -- One Montgomery Plaza, the county courthouse, and the Human Services Center, all in Norristown, and the annex building in Willow Grove.

Among the measures:  reorganizing county offices to better use the space; an energy-efficient retrofit planned for One Montgomery Plaza; an agreement in which the county gets paid to go off the grid (and sometimes onto generators) at peak times;  and a water-saving program at the Eagleville correctional facility. 

The county also contracted with a company to find and implement energy saving measures at the courthouse.  Instead of charging the county directly, the company will retain a portion of the cost savings over the next several years.

When Shapiro's administration took over in 2012, the courthouse was using $600,000 worth of electricity each year and One Montgomery Plaza was using $400,000.  Shapiro said the goal is to cut those figures in half by 2015.  The water-saving program at Eagleville has already achieved a 50 percent savings, from $450,000 to $225,000 a year.

Smaller savings are also coming from "cultural changes in how we work and commute," Shapiro said.  The county plans to replace its vehicle fleet with hybrid and electric cars;  is in the process of switching from computer servers to cloud-based storage;  encourages workers to turn off lights when offices are not being used;  and has switched paper towel dispensers for a savings of $10,000 a year.