State plan aims to cut energy costs

March 19, 1993|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Staff Writer

The Maryland Energy Administration said yesterday that it will revamp the lighting and heating systems in 90 percent of the state's 4,400 buildings during the next five years as part of its energy conservation plan.

The move would cut at least $12 million off the state's annual electric bill.

The plan also calls for creation of a center to encourage industry to convert to more efficient machinery, tax incentives for the use of natural gas vehicles, and the establishment of community "showcases" for energy conservation.

"It's absolutely the right thing to do," Gov. William Donald Schaefer said at a kickoff ceremony at the World Trade Center. "It's a day that I didn't think, quite frankly, we were going to get to."

The strategy is the outgrowth of various state conservation measures and the the recommendations of the Governor's Energy Task Force, which conducted a yearlong study. The program also ties in with the utility companies' "demand-side management" programs, which includes a rate structure that rewards utilities for promoting energy conservation.

Key parts of the plan include:

* Increasing the energy efficiency of state buildings, primarily by installing new lighting equipment. Some buildings also will have heating and cooling systems upgraded and computer-management systems installed, said Gerald L. Thorpe, executive director of the Energy Administration. He estimates annual savings will range from $12 million to $22 million.

Part of the cost will be paid for by rebates from utility companies, which also will finance the remaining expenses. The additional financing cost will be more than offset by savings in electricity, he said.

The state has collected more than $3 million in rebates from utility companies for revamping buildings.

* Creation of energy conservation showcases by state utilities to demonstrate how conservation works.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. will work with Hunt Valley businesses to develop a system in which the utility will directly control the energy use of buildings in the area. On the Eastern Shore, the Delmarva Power and Light Co. will work with Pocomoke City officials to implement energy conservation for residential, industrial and commercial customers.

The Potomac Electric Power Co. will work with the University of Maryland at College Park to cut electricity consumption at the school. And Potomac Edison will spend $200,000 to retrofit a school for the deaf in Frederick.

* Establishment of a center to promote energy conservation among businesses and creation of a course at Howard Community College to train building energy managers. The center should be operating by the summer and the course should begin in the fall. The legislature already has bills to provide tax incentives to businesses that buy vehicles that use alternative fuels -- such as natural gas -- or set up fueling stations for those cars and trucks.

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