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Debt refinancing saving Garrett County $1.8M

Commissioners approve Energy Conservation Plan

For the Cumberland Times-News Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — The Garrett County commissioners have taken action to save the county $1.8 million in interest costs for water and sewer projects over 20 years, according to a news release.

The commissioners unanimously approved the issuance of a debt refinancing package of $35 million at 3.5 percent interest through Susquehanna Bank.

The refinancing consolidates 12 bonds totaling $25.85 million as well as other debts the Garrett County Sanitary District had incurred to finance three water and sewer projects.

The projects include $8.22 million for the Thayerville water system, $55,000 for the Jennings sewer pump station and $875,000 for Mountain Lake Park/Loch Lynn Heights water system, according to Linda Lindsey, director of the department of public utilities.

Lindsey credited Public Utilities Assistant Director Jeff Broadwater for spearheading the debt restructuring and said, “We haven’t consolidated all our debt like this before, but this is more advantageous to the county.”

The board also unanimously ap-proved an Energy Conservation Plan, which replaces a 1993 plan, designed to curb county facilities’ energy consumption by 5 percent this fiscal year and up to 15 percent by 2015.

The plan targets electricity, fuel oil, natural gas, propane and water/sewerage.

An Energy Conservation Team, with representatives from nine county departments, includes Commissioner Robert Gatto. The team and the county’s Facilities and Maintenance Department will work with the commissioners and county administrator in establishing energy guidelines and communicating them throughout county government facilities.

“This is a great initiative and very timely,” said board chairman James Raley. “By approving this plan, it becomes our plan, which ties in nicely with our LEAN management.” Spearheaded by Commissioner Gregan Crawford, LEAN management was established to create more value while using fewer resources and also has a county committee,

The new Energy Conservation Plan outlines immediate, short- and long-term measures for energy conservation and recognizes that third-party energy audits and/or energy accounting software programs may be needed to effectively measure consumption.

County Purchasing Agent Brian Bowers said the county has “modeled its goals after the state’s,” referring to the Empower Maryland initiative of reducing energy consumption by 15 percent statewide by 2015.

Some of the plan’s energy-saving ideas include:

• Turning off lights to save up to 20 percent of lighting expenses.

• Removing one or more lamps from multiple lamp fixtures.

• Turning off computers when not in use.

• Raising or lowering thermostats one degree.

More here.

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