Plan set to fix emergency operations center heat issues
Georgetown — Sussex County Council has approved a plan to solve cooling problems at the county’s emergency operations center. Last summer, the county had to rent a cooling tower to supplement an undersized closed-loop geothermal system that could not keep up with cooling needs within the center.
“It was a very long summer,” said Steve Hudson, the county’s director of technical engineering. “The tower is very high maintenance and high dollar to operate. We’ve been looking for a better option.”
Because of the costs of maintaining the tower, the county ended up purchasing it. Adding in the purchase price and rental fees prior to purchase, the county spent $22,000 on the tower.
Not only was it hot outside, but a lot of heat is also generated by the equipment inside the facility. It has be maintained at a constant temperature throughout the year.
Hudson presented two plans to council Dec. 6 comparing costs for an open-loop geothermal system and a more traditional mechanical system.
Although the mechanical system costs less to install, over a 10-year period costs associated with the geo-thermal system would be $200,000 less, Hudson said. Council agreed with his recommendation and voted 4-0 to allow the design and bidding process to begin.
The new system will cost about $326,000 to install with an annual operating cost – including maintenance and utility charges – of about $2,000. According to Hudson’s figures, a mechanical system would cost about $273,000 to install with an annual operating cost of about $24,000.
The open-loop system with water wells will be used in conjunction with the current closed-loop system, Hudson said.
County engineer Mike Izzo said discussions are under way to explore legal options for possibly recovering funds spent to supplement the undersized air conditioning system.
EOC’s solar panel system is on target
Hudson also presented council with figures from the first three months of operation of the solar panel system at the emergency operations center. The system generated about 20 percent less than projected in September, which Hudson blamed on cloudy, rainy days. In October, it surpassed projects by 11 percent, and it generated 1 percent more than projected in November. “We are right on target what was projected, but all of the savings was used up by [costs to operate] the tower unit,” Hudson said.
The system is generating about 386 kilowatts daily, saving the county about $1,100 per month in utility costs.
Highs and lows the last three months were: high of 623 kilowatts Sept. 13 and a low of 67 kilowatts Sept. 6; a high of 629 kilowatts Oct. 6 and a low of 36 kilowatts Oct. 29; a high of 577 kilowatts Nov. 5 and a low of 27 kilowatts Nov. 22. As days get shorter, less output will occur, Hudson said.
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