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Latrobe council to get energy audit of City Hall

| Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 8:40 p.m.

An energy auditor is expected to tell Latrobe officials how to save money on heating and cooling City Hall when the results of a comprehensive energy audit are presented to City Council on Monday.

The comprehensive audit will show how energy is being used at City Hall, said Stacy Richards, director of the Energy Resource Center at the SEDA-Council of Governments, an 11-county regional planning group based in Lewisburg.

RCx Building Diagnostics Inc. of Charleroi conducted inspections of City Hall on April 12 and 18, said City Manager Alex Graziani. RCx will provide Latrobe with detailed figures on the cost of implementing its recommendations and the estimated energy savings.

Trying to reduce the cost of heating and cooling City Hall presents challenges because parts of the 30,000-square-foot building, which house the police and fire departments and Mutual Aid Ambulance Service, are being used 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to a lower level used by police and emergency responders, the building has two upper floors of offices.

Installing a new heating, ventilating and air conditioning system will cost about $100,000, Graziani said.

The city provided the auditors with two years of monthly energy bills — heat, water use and electricity — and the auditors will analyze those bills, he said.

“It will give them a road map of where they should invest” in order to save energy, Richards said. “It will tell them what the payback will be if make that investment.”

With an energy audit done by a professional firm, Graziani said, he hopes the city can use it to position itself for grants for energy-saving measures.

RCx will explain any rebates and incentives that may be applicable to institute energy-saving measures, Richards said.

The SEDA-Council of Governments, formerly the Susquehanna Economic Development Association, is working with West Penn Power's Sustainable Energy Fund in overseeing the energy audit project, Richards said. The council of governments subcontracted with the Southern Alleghenies Planning & Development Commission, an Altoona-based agency, which hired the Charleroi firm to conduct the energy audit for Latrobe.

Latrobe is one of four municipalities within West Penn Power's service territory undergoing energy audits of publicly owned properties, the SEDA-Council of Governments said. The municipalities were among 10 communities in which utility bill analyses were completed last year in the first phase of the project.

Work on the energy-saving project began about two years ago, and several other communities with populations under 15,000 were considered for the initiative, Richards said. Some of those municipalities were not able to invest the time needed to prepare for the audit, she said.

The Sustainable Energy Fund provided $5,000 to help pay for the energy audit at Latrobe, Richards said. The fund and the federal Appalachian Regional Commission are underwriting the assistance provided by the council of government's Energy Resource Center to hire the energy assessor.

Latrobe officials will have the chance to comment May 15-20.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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