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Sunderland examines energy-saving changes

— The town could save more than $10,000 a year if it retrofits the lighting in the public safety complex, highway garage, the town office building and the wastewater treatment plant.

Replacing these buildings’ lighting with more efficient lights could net an energy savings of 68,204 kilowatt hours per year in electricity.

The lighting retrofits, which will be undertaken by Universal Electric Co. of Springfield, may start as early as this week, Town Administrator Margaret Nartowicz said.

The Energy Committee proposed the retrofit projects, which involves replacing existing lights with more efficient ones, such as LED lights, after conducting an energy audit of municipal buildings. The committee determined retrofitting the town buildings would create the most savings, and pay for themselves within two years.

“These are the low-hanging fruit,” said Aaron Falbel, an Energy Committee member.

Some existing fluorescent light bulbs, such as those in use in the town office building, will be replaced with fluorescent bulbs with reduced wattage and higher efficiency.

The public safety complex and highway garage together use 138,618 kwh per year. Retrofitting the complex would save 42,448 kwh per year, or 30.6 percent. The project would cost $32,893, but $21,387 in utility incentives could drop the price to $11,506.

The town office building uses 50,912 kwh per year. Retrofitting the town office would save 7,583 kwh per year, or 14.9 percent. The project costs $9,225, but with $3,664 in utility incentives, that figure could drop to $5,561.

The wastewater treatment plant and pumping station uses 160,062 kilowatts per year. The projected savings is 18,173 kwh, or 11.4 percent. The project cost would be $22,002, but it could drop to $13,339 if the town receives $8,663 in utility incentives.

In August, the town earned the Green Community designation that makes municipalities eligible for renewable power and energy-efficiency grants. The state awarded the town $146,450.

Whether the town can use Green Community funding for the projects remains a question, Nartowicz said. However, the town could request $30,407 from the state’s Green Communities program. If that funding is available, the town would see savings from the start of the projects. If not, town officials anticipate the projects will pay for themselves in two years.

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