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Westmoreland municipal authority OKs $9M in upgrades

| Friday, June 14, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County will pay nearly $9 million as part of an energy savings program that is expected to recoup more than half of its cost.

Board members on Thursday agreed to a deal with Constellation Energy of Pittsburgh to upgrade equipment at more than a dozen locations throughout the water system.

The program will provide energy-efficient lights, pumps and other equipment to replace outdated machinery that was scheduled for upgrading.

The $9 million investment is expected to generate about $5.8 million in energy savings.

Authority manager Chris Kerr said that the energy-efficient equipment would have been purchased as part of a general upgrade of the water utility's infrastructure.

“These are things we were going to replace, things that were at the end of their life,” Kerr said. “We were going to spend the money anyway, so instead of paying $9 million, it will only cost us $3 million.”

The savings will come from a reduction in energy costs associated with the more efficient equipment.

The authority last month completed a $141 million bond deal to pay for major upgrades to the system, which provides water to more than 120,000 customers in five counties.

It plans to complete major infrastructure projects, including the replacement of 64 miles of water lines throughout the 2,300-mile system.

The authority will pay for a major expansion to enable it to sell water to customers in Monroeville and Plum. Last summer, the authority signed a 40-year-deal to sell water to about 70,000 customers in those communities. The $110 million deal is slated to begin in 2016.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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