City makes cuts by improving energy efficiency

ALPENA – The City of Alpena does what it can to upgrade its buildings to make them more energy efficient, and thanks to a new initiative, more money may be able to help pay for them.

Efficiency United is an entity that collect money from cost recovery on your power bill and it is funneled to it, then it distributes it to institutions that upgrade to more energy efficient appliances and systems. City Engineer Rich Sullenger said Efficiency United helps to fund an $8,876 project that will replace some old lights in a storage building at the Department of Public Works that eats up power.

Sullenger said Efficiency United will reimburse the city $3,407 after it pays the full amount. Once the refund is made the cost of the project for the new lights will be $5,468.

“They provide incentive for businesses, communities and individuals to perform energy efficient improvements,” Sullenger said. “For this they are helping to replace some large incandescent lights which aren’t very efficient in a storage facility. The savings from the new lights are expected to be about $3,380 annually, so it will take less than two years for them to pay for themselves.”

Sullenger said the city is always looking for ways to make improvements that will help cut power costs at all of their facilities. He said he has had talks with Efficiency United about dedicating money toward other projects.

“We look at things building to building and try to identify where our most deficient areas are,” Sullenger said. “We know we need to replace the boilers at the Public Safety Building. They are 20 years old and we have had some failures with them. We have talked to Efficiency United and there may be some avenues for us to get some incentives to replace those.

“The city doesn’t have a lot of money to put toward energy efficiency upgrades, but if we can get a short term payback, it might open up some more avenues where we can find a way to do those things.”

Besides the DPW facility and the public safety building Sullenger said the water treatment plant and the water plant need some upgrades made to them. He said if some help from Efficiency United is available, some of those projects could happen down the road.

“Right now we are also looking at some motor control upgrades at the water recycling plant, which will will pace the motor to the demand of the plant,” Sullenger said. “There could be some optimal savings there and again this a project we are working on with Efficiency United”.

There were five bids for the installation of the new lights at the DPW building and the job was given to Omega Electric of Alpena for $8,876. Sullenger said he expects the work to begin soon.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5689.