By Tommy Mann Jr. – The Record

Commissioners received an update on a potential energy savings project which could save the county millions of dollars.

Orange County Commissioners met Tuesday afternoon to conduct routine business and received a report from Way Service, Ltd. pertaining to a study to identify areas in energy expenses where the county can reduce savings in the future. Much of this project will include either repairs or upgrades to a variety of energy related systems, such as lighting, HVAC and more.

According to Ken Morris, Capital Generation Executive – “Green Solutions Team” for Way Service, Ltd., the original assessment has been completed and Way Service, Ltd. has started the IGA development.

“We have looked at a variety of items across the county,” Morris said to Commissioners on Tuesday. “We have found a lot of needs at the Orange County Jail, especially with the air-conditioning system which everyone already knows about, but it is definitely in need of replacement.”

Morris said all air-conditioning systems at county buildings have been inspected for energy savings potential and condition. Also, each system has had a “data-logger” installed and downloads operational information and interior conditions to a computer for analysis.

He also recommended going to a centralized control system for all air-conditioning systems, which would alert personnel of potential issues and save manpower.

“We also looked at the life-cycle of each of the units and what have been the most efficient over time,” he added. “It’s all part of trying to generate savings.”

Morris said the company has also inspected lighting systems in each county building and looking at retrofitting all lighting with newer, less expensive LED systems.

Other items which Morris stated the county may want to look at soon include replacing the water tower at the Orange County Courthouse, repairs to the marble facade of the courthouse, as well as correcting air duct problems inside the Orange County Courthouse Administration building.

Morris stated the IGA report is expected to be ready on Feb. 11, but Commissioners still need to finalize the scope of the project itself by determining what items are of a priority to have repaired and replaced.

According to Orange County Judge Brint Carlton, Commissioners had two companies express interest in the energy savings project for the county but opted to go with Way Service, Ltd.

According to its official website, Way Service Ltd offers a variety of services which can reduce owning and operating costs while simultaneously improving working conditions, upgrading infrastructure and protecting the environment. The company provides services for municipalities, healthcare facilities, educational facilities and for the manufacturing industry and has offices based in Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Vidor.

“They are trying to help us find ways to save money for Orange County,” Carlton said. “And we are not committed to anything with this study. We are just trying to get the best bang for our buck, so to speak, and they have come up with some good ways to help save money for the county.

“The amount of money we save depends on the scope of the work,” he continued. “But, in theory, whatever the price of the project costs, for example, if it is $1 million, then over the 15 years we finance the project, it should save us that much money.”

Carlton stated that, if the county agrees to the project, Way Services, Ltd’s project must save the county the agreed upon amount or pay the difference in the savings. This is a statutory obligation it must adhere to as part of the agreement.

“If we agree to this, which I expect we will, then it is a win-win for the county,” Carlton added.

A workshop session to discuss in detail the scope of the project could be held next week.