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County flips switch on energy-use upgrades

Sandoval County officials celebrate the completion of energy-efficiency upgrades to county facilities with a switch-flip last week. Photo by Melissa Perez.

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Sandoval County hosted a “Flip the Switch” ceremony Tuesday to celebrate the completion of the most aggressive energy-efficiency program for a government agency in the state.

The ceremony highlighted the strides the county has made toward a more sustainable and financially responsible future by upgrading infrastructure in facilities across the county.

Sandoval County has invested $6.5 million in energy-efficient LED lighting, advanced building control systems, high-efficiency heating/cooling equipment, solar systems and water conservations measures that will touch 45 of the county’s 52 facilities. Overall, the project is expected to reduce the county’s annual energy use by 40 percent, annual costs by 35 percent and save more than $10 million over the 20-year contract term.

“Being financially and environmentally responsible is important to all of us,” said Sandoval County Manager Dianne Maes. “Previous county leadership envisioned the plan to do more than just recycle or install stand-alone solar; they wanted to create an aggressive and comprehensive energy efficiency program to save our taxpayers money, and protect the environment at the same time. We all now stand to benefit from their vision with the completion of this program.”

To install and put the energy efficiency program into place, Sandoval County contracted with ENGIE Services U.S., a Rio Rancho company. By contracting with a local company, the county also helped create jobs and support local residents and workers.

ENGIE Services U.S. has designed, installed and guaranteed the annual energy savings from this project.

Here are quick facts about the program:

•  The solar installations will provide 25 percent of the electricity needed to power all county facilities.

• In water savings, Sandoval County will likely see about $30,000 in savings a year.

• The project implemented 475 water-conservation measures, including water softeners and low-flow plumbing fixtures.

• The program has upgraded more than 5,700 interior lighting fixtures and over 440 exterior lighting fixtures

• The program has installed 40 pieces of high-efficiency heating/cooling equipment, including boilers, air handlers and furnaces.

• The program has installed advanced building automation systems in 10 of the county’s largest facilities.

“This program truly represents Sandoval County’s commitment to developing sustainable energy solutions for future generations, and its commitment to being responsible with taxpayer dollars,” said Sandoval County Commission Chairman David Heil.

This program was financed through Sterling National Bank, and annual savings in energy, water and maintenance will cover the debt service and annual service fees.