County pursues energy savings

February 22, 2009
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County commissioners are likely to initiate a program this week to reduce energy usage throughout the government. They also hope the program will provide the county with a return on its investment that it can’t find on Wall Street.

“We’re spending $19,000 to get $200,000 back,” said Daryl Delabbio, administrator and controller for Kent County.

The county’s cost to implement what its calls the Energy Use Reduction Program is $19,000, which will pay for some of the program’s initiatives. The energy costs the county expects to save from the initiatives is $200,000 — in just a year after the program is up and running.

The cost reductions are expected to come from things such as replacing manual thermostats with programmable ones, conducting internal energy audits and putting those findings into practice, training drivers in fuel-efficient ways to operate a vehicle, mowing less often, and making employees aware of energy-efficient tactics.

The county wants to cut its expenses on all forms of energy use, including electricity, steam heating, gasoline and diesel.

“If we can just get people to turn the light switch off,” said Commissioner Art Tanis. “Seeing all the lights on in the courthouse at night just frosts me.”

The energy-reduction program came from a work group Delabbio put together last year, which was chaired by then-Facilities Management Director Robert Mihos and co-chaired by current Assistant County Administrator Mary Swanson. Thirteen county employees from 10 departments served on the work group, which filed its report with Delabbio in December.

Commissioners will decide Thursday whether to fund the program. The money would come from Facilities Management, the Sheriff’s Department and Fleet Services.

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