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New energy initiative for city designed to save money
Oct 24, 2012 4:30 pm
Johnson Controls and Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead have announced a new citywide energy and water conservation program he says will create more than 200 local jobs and reduce the city’s utility bills.
Craighead said he had not anticipated Johnson Controls would be issuing a press release so quickly but the city had been exploring the idea since early this year.
"They made a news release on it now because they've been working around town for a month," he explained, adding that the company would be doing a lot more during the next year. "They're just telling people what going on, I'm used to calling it Johnson Control thing not the Smarter Lebanon initiative."
The Smarter Lebanon initiative will include a variety of lighting, water, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems upgrades in 13 city buildings, including the Town Hall, Jimmy Floyd Family Center, Harold Dean Greer Recreation Center, Lebanon City Hall, and the Public Safety and gas departments.
The company said the program will include improvements to the water distribution system and the installation of nearly 7,000 water meters throughout the city. The meters support a new automated meter reading and leak detection system, which is designed to conserve more than 420 million gallons of water annually and increase efficiency at Lebanon’s water and wastewater plants.
The AMR system detects leaks electronically and reports the information to a central dispatch site for immediate maintenance. The gas department will also use the AMR technology to increase the accuracy and efficiency of meter reading.
"With this, they will be able to drive through subdivisions and pick up water and gas meter readings," Craighead said.
The mayor said the potential savings for the city could be significant.
"This last year they showed us the numbers and the savings," Craighead said. "It's similar to the programs the Wilson County Schools are doing. We'll be saving on utilities in the long run."
He said the leak detection program alone should save the city time and money.
"The ability to monitor leaks in our water lines will lower energy costs and will pay for itself in the long run," Craighead said. "With this we can monitor leaks and pinpoint them. It will save us from having to tear up streets looking for leaks."
The initiative will also include converting traffic signal lights to LED lighting, and bundling the voicemail system for all city facilities into one VoIP Telephone system.
He said the city would spend about $8 million to make all the needed changes, but he, and Johnson Controls, anticipate the changes will generate more than $11 million of benefits over 15 years through energy savings to the city.
As with the schools Johnson Controls guarantees savings over a specified period of time and if those savings are not realized, Johnson Controls pays the difference between the value of the measured and verified consumption and the guaranteed consumption under the contract.
The rate of savings and the time specified varies from building to building and from project to project.
"There are a lot of different programs involved. Some are just changing toilets and lighting," he said. "Things are broken down to having different returns —some is tied to Floyd Center and office buildings, some parts of it on the gas, which we've already paid for from reserves."
Johnson Controls consultant Joe Bond said Lebanon is making a wise choice.
“City leadership should be commended for their forward-looking approach to creating a more sustainable community,” said Bond. “They continue to find ways to proactively address their infrastructure needs before they become a burden on the taxpayers of Lebanon.”
Construction of the project began last month and is expected to be completed in December of 2013.
"The council voted in favor of this during the first part of this year," Craighead concluded. "A lot of this will bring us up to the latest technology and helps us save money and be more efficient to keep our rates down for the customers."
Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 444-3952, ext. 45 or via email at email@example.com