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Bowling Green conducts energy exam

BOWLING GREEN — A southern Kentucky city is examining on a building-by-building basis how much it spends on electricity and fuel with an eye toward finding ways to cut down on the expenses.

Bowling Green City Clerk Katie Schaller gathered the information over the last few weeks and found mixed results.

"Anecdotally we found that the City Hall annex was not a very energy-efficient building," said City Manager Kevin DeFebbo. "It was not one of the buildings we were looking at (remodeling), but this tells us this could factor into that equation or we should invest in some insulation."

In the most recent fiscal year, the city of Bowling Green spent nearly $500,000 for electricity, $80,000 for water and sewer and $101,000 for natural gas.

Street lighting accounts for an additional $500,000 and nearly $700,000 was spent for gasoline and diesel fuel.

At 17,856 square feet, the annex used $10,256 in natural gas. The 45,000-square-foot police station, built about 10 years, ago used just $3,000 more.

The study pleased Nancy Givens, co-chairwoman of the environmental group BG Green. Many city buildings were built years ago with little thought to energy efficiency, Givens said.

"Our greatest energy gains in the coming years are going to be through energy efficiency," Givens said. "By cutting energy requirements, it increases economic viability" of a home business or government. "They have much lower recurring costs. ... It creates a lot of additional revenue they can use for other things."

BG Green was instrumental in getting solar panels set up as a demonstration project at the city's ALIVE Center. It's something Givens wants city officials to consider for a planned fire department.

"We've been getting terrific results," Givens said.

Givens said individuals can receive up to a $500 incentive to install solar panels and get paid for any power returned to the grid.

The city's energy audit found that 30 percent of its electricity was used for public safety facilities and 50 percent for parks facilities. Public safety facilities used 36 percent of the natural gas and parks used 28 percent. Parks, however, were by far the greatest users of water and sewer at 85 percent.

DeFebbo said the study, which looked at vehicle fuel consumption by class, also showed the city using fairly inefficient vehicles in its fleet.

Schaller said the fire department will consider purchasing a hybrid for its next vehicle, and police and fire departments already are curtailing non-emergency trips.

"A good question a year from now will be to see what we've done and if we were able to hold the line on (costs) or reduce them," DeFebbo said.