Commission gives energy savings contract to Ingenuity

By ED HOWELL
Posted 5/21/20

The Walker County Commission agreed Monday to an energy savings contract with Ingenuity, after finding alternatives would not be feasible for the county.

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Commission gives energy savings contract to Ingenuity

Posted

The Walker County Commission agreed Monday to an energy savings contract with Ingenuity, after finding alternatives would not be feasible for the county.

Ingenuity, Inc. in Pelham has already been used by the commission for software that has been praised for its use at the Probate Judge's Office, allowing more use of a website to make payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its software is also scheduled to be used in the Revenue Commissioner's Office. 

According to the contract, Ingenuity will perform a study of the county operations on energy usage through electricity and natural gas, and then identify ways to get savings, rebates and credits. Ingenuity will then make recommendations, which the commission can adopt or reject. 

For the ideas that the commission adopts, they will pay Ingenuity 35 percent of the savings over three years. Beyond that, the county keeps all the savings. 

The company has been used by about 60 city and county governments governments to obtain energy savings. 

After the proposal came up in March, commissioners had decided to hold off for further study of other potential companies. However, District 1 Commissioner Keith Davis said after Monday's meeting that he met with representatives of another company but found it was  not feasible. 

"Mainly that company wants you to borrow and renovate, and then use the savings to pay the debt. I just felt like the county didn't need to take on any additional debt," Davis said, indicating the Ingenuity process would be more gradual. 

Dickerson said Monday a number of rates will be looked at, including rates for water, sewer, power and gas, to make sure the commission is paying the best price. Ingenuity will also simplify the billing process, taking several accounts scattered from different locations for Alabama Power or different water authorities, for example, into "a portal that accounts payable can access quickly," she said. That may also allow for bills to be paid quicker without waiting for mail to come from different locations. 

Preliminary work has determined that the county already is on track to save at least $10,000 using the Integrity system, she said. 

In other action, Monday, the commission:

• Heard County Administrator Robbie Dickerson said as for next year's budget, officials are looking at "savings through various vendors," meeting with the largest vendors. "We're looking at any type of savings that we can," she said. 

• Heard Dickerson encourage department heads to continue to use the purchase order scanning system. "That was huge advantage during this pandemic that we were able to have all that sent into the office without physically having to be here," she said. 

• Heard that the commission will move its June 1 meeting to Tuesday, June 2, as June 1 is a state holiday, Jefferson Davis' Birthday. She also noted Monday's Memorial Day holiday. 

• Agreed to a non-exclusive franchise agreement with C Spire, which will allow them to install fiber optic. Crews have already been working in the Jasper area, as the company plans to lease fiber from Alabama Power in order to offer fiber internet, television and home phone services to the area. County attorney Richard Fikes had no problem with the contract. 

• Voted for a joint purchasing agreement with the City of Dora for asphalt and paving services, using bids the county has already agreed to. Fikes said the law allows for such agreements with municipalities, and the Dora City Council has already approved an ordinance. District 4 Steven Aderholt said it doesn't affect the county's bid price or cost the county anything, but simply allows Dora to take advantage of the county's bid price for purchasing. Fikes said county and Dora indicated in their ordinance or resolution that each was responsible for their own expense. The bid price was determined a number of months ago. County Engineer Mike Short was not present for the meeting. "This is for their benefit. We are doing this because we were asked if they could participate. It doesn't affect us in any way," Aderholt said, saying other municipalities could do the same.