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Covington could save $1.5 million over 20 years with new energy plan
Covington crews work on restoring power after wind blew down a pole on Hwy. 278. - photo by Matt Smith

COVINGTON, Ga. — In partnership with Schneider Electric, the city of Covington’s pursuit to be more environmentally friendly could pay off handsomely in the long run.

According to a study conducted by Schneider Electric, the city could save up to $1.5 million over the next 20 years by taking necessary steps to cut energy usage. Steps would include installing interior and exterior LED lighting, street lighting upgrades, smart controls for lighting, smart buildings and HVAC automation, water conservation and envelope/weatherization.

LED lighting lasts more than 20 years before it needs to be replaced. It also uses half the wattage of a typical T8/HID lamp, of common fluorescent lamps.

Switching to LED lighting for street lamps would reduce the energy output by 70%.

Currently, it costs the city $245,630 annually to operate nine facilities.

By making necessary upgrades at various city properties and venues, including fire and police stations, city hall and the airport among others, Schneider Electric suggests Covington could save between $46,400-$55,000 annually. The upgrades would also result in a 22% decrease in energy usage, according to the study.

“I think anytime you can do what needs to be done and save money at the same time, that’s good,” Mayor Steve Horton told The Covington News.

During its meeting Monday, Feb. 1, the city council voted 5-1 (Kenneth Morgan opposed) to hire Schneider Electric to complete an “Investment Grade Audit” that will further detail potential projects, as well as all cost and savings figures later this spring. Then, the city will determine what projects — if any — they want to move forward with. 

“If the City elects to move forward with any of the items Schneider proposes, then the City will pay the cost of that project, and utilize the energy savings to do so,” a city spokesperson said. “Schneider Electric guarantees the energy savings associated with any project it completes for 20 years. If the city elects to move forward with none of the proposed projects, the city will receive the full audit and pay Schneider Electric $39,000 for the cost of the audit and not retain Schneider Electric.”

If Covington were to opt into completing any suggested projects by Schneider Electric, City Manager Scott Andrews said it would be beneficial to the city in more ways than one.

“This energy savings program will help prepare the entire community for the future by updating city buildings and infrastructure,” he said. “Getting this agreement in place allows the city to make improvements that will enable the team to fund needed projects with minimal impact to the current budget.”

In other business, the council:

• Approved the purchase of an aerial bucket truck from Ginn Chrysler Commercial in the amount of $132,596. Horton said the purchase was to replace the current one in the telecommunications division. Ginn’s was the lowest of five total bids. The truck will be available within 180-210 days, according to city documents.

• Approved the $183,850 bid from GTG Traffic Signals for the installation of the traffic signal at the intersection of Alcovy Road and Covington Town Center Boulevard.

• Approved the Planning and Zoning Department’s proposed fee schedule 5-1 (Fleeta Baggett opposed). 

• Approved an encroachment agreement with ER Snell Contractor Inc. for Georgia Hwy. 142 roundabout water main relocation.

• Approved a resolution after briefly holding an executive session, agreeing to fund up to $14 million being spent to fund various upgrades associated with the Eastside sewer outfall line and basin, as discussed in a recent study performed by Carter & Sloope Engineers, fund all acquisition and legal fees associated with any necessary land purchase or easement transaction including appraisals, filings and other costs as may be required, and file for a Georgia Environmental Finance Authority loan, which will serve as the funding mechanism for the project and associated costs.

• Tabled discussion of rezoning property located on Jackson Highway to Feb. 15. This marked the second time the item has been tabled (first tabled Jan. 4). It was originally tabled to wait on results of a traffic study. Traffic study results are in, but Horton said there was other “housekeeping items” to take care of before discussion could properly be had. 

• Approved a contract extension with Ice Days to allow the ice skating rink currently at Legion Field to operate for an additional week. The last day of operation is Feb. 21.