County Council plans to cut lighting bills

December 20, 1992|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

Baltimore County government is moving to save thousands of dollars by cutting electric lighting bills in dozens of public buildings by 30 percent through a deal worked out with Baltimore Gas & Electric Co.

The County Council is expected to approve the deal, which involves 88 public buildings, at its meeting tomorrow night.

The cost-saving program continues efforts begun in April 1991, when BG&E converted lighting in the County Courts building in Towson and in the county office building. The work was done through BG&E's Energy Efficient Indoor Lighting Program.

The new deal calls for changing the fluorescent lighting in all county police and fire stations, senior centers and recreational facilities in former county school buildings, county repair and utility shops, and the public safety building in the 700 block of East Joppa Road. The work should be completed by June 30, 1994.

The program involves taking out half the lighting tubes in a fixture and replacing them with reflectors, which provide about the same amount of light. Installing lower-wattage lighting tubes also would save money. Once completed, the new lighting will save the county an estimated $266,295 a year.

BG&E will pay 40 percent of the $726,225 conversion cost and will finance the county's 60 percent share: $435,735. Though council members are pleased with the deal, several feel that the utility's finance charge of 12 percent is too high. Merreen Kelly, the county's administrative officer, said he is trying to negotiate a 9 percent rate.

Because the loan payments will be added to the monthly utility bills, the county won't have to pay any upfront costs. Energy savings are expected to reduce the overall monthly bills, even with the addition of the loan payments. John E. Lutz, director of central services, said that depending on the size of the buildings, it will take the county between seven months and 10 years to pay for the conversions.

Mr. Lutz also said other county government buildings, such as libraries and health centers, probably will be converted later.

Since last year, similar lighting changes have been discussed for the county schools.

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