Utility bills eventually will be posted online
David Barkemeyer
Milam County Judge

Now that we’re getting more and more into the business of open and transparent county government, I’m realizing that I’ve got to work harder at providing answers to questions that are going to come up as you see the data that’s made available.

For example, one of the things the local government code requires is that counties with web sites must display their utility bills.

Therefore you’ll eventually find posted on our website at our utility bills.

So I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before somebody is going to want to know who we buy electricity from, how much we’re paying, and can’t we negotiate a cheaper rate.

Actually we’ve got a pretty good deal going already. Your previous commissioner’s court had joined a consortium of some 76 other local governments called Public Power Pool that has negotiated a contract with Reliant Energy through 2013 for about 60 percent of the groups power needs and negotiates shorter term deals for the remainder.

Our current rate is about 6.8 cents per KWH and our total county electric bill runs about $210,000 per year.

We have some 20 buildings and facilities included in the agreement currently.

I have reviewed the contract with their representative recently and found that three of our build- ings had not been included, so he agreed to add those to the plan which will result in additional savings for us in the coming months.

Other power brokers have been contacting me and we will review our options as this contract comes up for renewal in a year or so.

In addition, I have engaged the services of an energy efficiency consultant provided by the Oncor Government Facilities Program to conduct a study of all of our buildings to make recommendations on improvements that might be implemented to reduce our electrical usage.

This program offers matching grant money for the implementation of energy efficiency projects.

We have one grant that is being implemented to replace the AC units on two buildings that may qualify us for additional dollars through this program that can then be used for additional efficiency improvement projects.

On a less encouraging note, the cooling equipment for the courthouse is now 12 years old and will require replacement over the next several years.

We will need to plan this cost into the budget. There is some possibility that we can earn some matching grant dollars through efficiency upgrading of the equipment to help offset these costs.

At any rate, there is never a shortage of challenges to be dealt with at 102 S. Fannin.

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2011-05-05 digital edition

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