The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

County to look at energy upgrades

 


Wahkiakum County officials are moving toward a comprehensive energy upgrade for most county facilities.

Personnel from Willdan Performance Engineering, Inc., have begun an initial audit of energy upgrade needs and will present initial findings to the county board of commissioners in two weeks.

Lauren Bromley, a certified energy manager and senior energy analyst for Willdan, presented her company's process to the county board of commissioners on Tuesday.

The company will identify outdated and inefficient equipment and system weaknesses, design improvements, handle grant funding applications, and manage construction at a single cost approved at the start of a project.

One system already identified in the courthouse is the heating and air conditioning system.

"The equipment is obsolete," Bromley said. "It was installed in 1994 and is managed by a computer that runs on a DOS operating system. Your staff has done an outstanding job to keep it running."

In response to a question from Commissioner Mike Backman, Bromley and county Public Works Director Chuck Beyer said the Grays River Valley Center would be a difficult facility to address.

For one thing, the electrical system is inadequate to handle larger loads. It has propane heaters in some rooms, and hallways aren't heated.

"As engineers, we would have to bring it up to code," Bromley said. "We can't work on a system that is unsafe."

"We've got to look at cost and benefits," Beyer said.

"It's a problematic building," Bromley said. "We can bring numbers back. We can talk about it some more."

Backman also commented that it would be a challenge for the county to finance an expensive project; commissioners wouldn't want to deplete reserves.

Commission Chair Dan Cothren responded that the county has dedicated reserves and could find loan financing.

"The problem is that if you let it go, it will nickel and dime you to death," he said.

"We can prioritize projects," said Commissioner Gene Strong.

"We've got some issues, and we've got to take care of them," Cothren said.

 

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