By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Forsyth receives energy grant
Stimulus to fund improvements
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News
Federal stimulus money will soon be cooling and brightening rooms in Forsyth County while at the same time saving money.

The county recently received $661,000 toward energy-saving measures through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation block grant will provide money for improvements in several county buildings.

Many of the buildings that will get energy-efficient upgrades already needed the work, said Dave Thornton, director of public facilities management.

"It's a win-win," he said. "It's an opportunity to replace units that are already in need of replacement with more efficient units, saving the taxpayers money."

Four projects have been approved by the federal Department of Energy, including energy-efficient air conditioners, lighting, roof insulation and an energy management system.

The energy savings from these measures are estimated to save almost 600,000 kilowatt-hours per year. That could mean a cost savings of about $60,000 annually, county spokeswoman Jodi Gardner said.

County commissioners gave initial approval to all but the lighting project at a Tuesday work session. They want more information on the cost savings of that project.

"As much as it's fun to spend stimulus money, [it's not worth it] if it wasn't really going to do anything for us long term," Commissioner Jim Boff said.

New air conditioners will be installed in buildings that were already in need of newer, more efficient ones, Thornton said. Among them: the Department of Family and Children Services building, the jail, two fire stations and Gateway Larc, a building used by the voter registrar.

Metal roof coatings will extend the life of some roofs in need of repair on five county buildings while providing better insulation, Thornton said.

The courthouse and magistrate court and tax commissioner's office building will have energy management systems installed, which will allow for monitoring and controlling energy output.

"That will give me an opportunity to ... detect problems in real time and react to them, giving an opportunity to save energy instead of waiting for an electric bill to show up and identifying it there," Thornton said.

The county administration building has been using the same system since 1995 to program air conditioners and lighting to go on and off at times as needed, he said.

The estimated 1,500 light bulbs not yet approved by the commission offer brighter light, longer life and less energy output, Thornton said.

Altogether, the county is aiming for an overall 20 percent reduction in power usage, he said, adding that's a tough goal but "you have to start somewhere."

The four planned projects total about $476,000, which will go toward paying contractors for work, purchasing materials and even funding the truckers who deliver supplies.

The idea of the energy grant, Thornton said, is to "use less energy and put people to work."

The county still has about $185,000 left for additional projects due to bids being lower than estimated, said Nancy Smallwood, Forsyth County grants administrator.

Nearly $1.9 billion has been set aside for local governments through the block grant nationally. Funding has also gone to Hall County, Alpharetta and Roswell.

Forsyth County qualified for the amount because of its population and was awarded money based on approved projects, Smallwood said.

Companies hired by the county to do the work will report to the government on the number of jobs created, she said, but the county will supply data for the next three years on its energy savings.