Commissioners give green light to renewable energy projects


Vancouver, WA – On Wednesday, November 28, the Board of Clark County Commissioners agreed to study two proposals that could save the county money while providing clean, renewable energy by 2009. The commissioners approved up to $127,112 for financial feasibility studies by the firm Johnson Controls, which is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and has been partnering with the county on energy solutions for the past 20 years.

“This means we can take an active role in positively impacting the environment,” says General Services Director Mark McCauley. “And it is right in line with the county’s recently adopted sustainability policy, which says that the county should lead by example in environmental matters.”

The “Base Case” proposal wraps together a number of small projects, including the installation of solar/photovoltaic and solar/thermal panels on the roofs of several county buildings, and a steam turbine that would burn wood scraps for the Jail Work Center Complex. The other option would involve two 2.5-megawatt wind turbines to generate electricity.

Guaranteed lower utility expenses and operational savings from these projects would be used to fund the needed infrastructure improvements. Retrofitting several buildings with more efficient lighting and heating/cooling equipment would essentially cost the county nothing.

Results of the “Base Case” study should be available in late February, with the “Wind Turbine” study finalized shortly after that. If approved by the commissioners, both projects could be started in 2008 and be operational by 2009.

In addition to saving the county money on energy costs, these renewable energy programs could be equivalent to removing the carbon pollution of approximately 5,655 cars from the road annually, resulting in a carbon neutral footprint that offsets all the county’s electricity, gasoline and natural gas consumption.

Under the wind turbine option, Johnson Controls would provide the county with all components, partners and rebate programs necessary to implement a project converting wind to electricity. Potential sites might be at the ridge line on the county’s Camp Bonneville property or in Eastern Washington.

Clark County previously partnered with Johnson Controls on a campus-wide energy management system, water conservation measures and a maintenance contract for eleven buildings. “Phase I is currently saving the county an estimated $300,000 a year in energy costs,” says McCauley. “The next phase, including the wind turbines, could save the county even more.”


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