Friday, October 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Montco is cutting its energy use in half, commissioner says

Commissioner Josh Shapiro says the county will cut its energy bill in half by 2015

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.

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Jessica Parks and Carolyn Davis
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