County OKs $1.3 million energy-efficiency program

Sedgwick County's buildings will get a $1.3 million energy efficiency facelift, which is expected to pay for itself in less than five years.

Commissioners on Wednesday approved going forward with a contract with Consolidated Edison Solutions Inc. to improve energy efficiency in county facilities such as the courthouse and jail.

Commissioner Richard Ranzau cast the lone vote against the project, which will use $300,000 of federal stimulus money. Without that money, the project was expected to pay for itself in six years.

Ranzau said that stimulus money is "pure debt" to be passed on to future generations.

He has consistently voted against accepting federal money for county projects.

Commissioner Jim Skelton said that he understood Ranzau's position but that the federal government would spend the money elsewhere if not on this project.

ConEd Solutions finished an energy audit of nearly all county buildings earlier this year. The $88,000 study was paid for with federal stimulus money.

The contract calls for 83 projects that include high-efficiency lighting and using an ozone-based system to clean inmates' uniforms and linens at the jail.

Energy "misers" also will be installed in vending machines to turn off the machines when no one is around.

Facilities director Steve Claassen told commissioners that a big part of the project will be replacing lighting in the county's parking garage.