An Alpharetta, Ga., company will perform an energy audit of the McDuffie County Courthouse this week and follow up with recommendations designed to reduce the costs of heating, cooling and lighting the building.
Frank Foster, sales manager of Linc Mechanical LLC, told county commissioners last week that his company has done similar audits for a number of counties and school systems in Georgia as the first step in achieving energy cost savings. He said the company achieves average savings of 28 percent if it implements its recommendations.
"We can engineer it; we can design it; we can install it," he said.
The audit, which the commission approved unanimously at the June 1 meeting, will be done at no cost to the county, he said.
The energy savings would be achieved by updating the building's environmental systems. Foster noted that Georgia Power, whose rates he said have risen more than 40 percent over the past six years, offers "huge rebates" for commercial buildings.
"We took a walk around your building, and there's a huge opportunity here, especially with lighting," he said.
He said the cost of lighting changes alone can usually be recouped in three to four years.
The audit Friday will take about three hours, Foster told The McDuffie Mirror in a telephone interview Monday, and the company should be able to come back with recommendations in about a week.
Jud Bryant of Bryant Associates, Architects, the project manager for the new city-county building and the courthouse renovation, said the courthouse has "a 1970s environmental system," installed when the building was last renovated, that badly needs to be updated.
"Those systems are immensely inefficient," he said in an interview with The Mirror .
"We want to make it dry, waterprooof and as inexpensive to operate as possible," he said of the courthouse.
"We don't want to trim costs on things that will save us money. It appears at the moment that we are going to be $750,000 to $800,000 under budget.
"The county wants to use a portion of that to do energy savings at the courthouse."
In other action, the commission voted to reimburse Lamar Hinton $812 for a sewer easement across his property. The money would come from the special water-sewer account.
Commissioner Paul McCorkle made a motion to approve the payment, and the Rev. Fred Favors seconded it.
McCorkle and Favors have opposed payments from the special fund, but McCorkle later explained to The Mirror that a check was originally written from a SPLOST III account to Hinton's wife. She died without cashing the check.
Then the SPLOST III money was moved to the special account.
"The money's really coming out of SPLOST III," McCorkle said.
However, for the second consecutive meeting, a motion to reimburse the city less than $12,000 from the special account died for lack of a second.
Commissioner William Jopling, who made the motion to approve the expenditure, said the county has a commitment to reimburse the city.
"We need to meet our obligations," he said.