Gracedale may have a declining census, but the cost of utilities at the County nursing home has skyrocketed. Last year alone, the cost was $2.5 million, which includes 550,000 gallons of fuel oil. Executive John Stoffa was presented with a list of $20 million in serious capital deficiencies, is hoping to use energy savings to pay for them.
McClure Company, a PPL subsidiary, has come up with a guaranteed energy plan that will save Northampton County $16.2 million in energy costs over the next ten years. Those savings will be used to finance $12.9 of the $20 million in improvements needed, at no cost to the taxpayer. If savings falls short, McClure will have to make up the difference.
That's what was presented at Council's Finance Committee yesterday. Colin McEvoy has an excellent description of this complicated shuffling of money in The Express Times. The purpose of this blog post is to explain exactly what needs to be done.
1) Sanitary Sewer System - It needs to be upgraded. Right now, the County is facing a $1,000 per day fine from the Nazareth Borough Municipal Authority. This requires immediate action to avoid penalties, but the permitting process alone will take from 6 to 9 months.
2) Grease Interceptor. - The county is required to upgrade the existing grease interceptor with a 20,000 gallon underground tank.
3) Steam Boiler Plant. - The current boilers are between 40-50 years old, use only fuel oil and are grossly oversized. This causes erratic and inefficient operation. McClure will replace them with properly-sized boilers that can operate on both gas and fuel oil. McClure wants to convert to natural gas before Winter to avoid a dependency on fuel oil during the 2012 fuel season. This action alone will result in an immediate savings of $80,000 per month.
4) Air Handling Units. - 17 air handling units on the roof, between 40-60 years old, are extremely inefficient and present ongoing comfort and maintenance issues. They will be replaced with more efficient, variable speed units. In addition to being cheaper, they will make Gracedale more comfortable for residents. Replacement will require detailed coordination with staff and residents. There is more flexibility now because the census is low.
5) Tower roof. - It needs to be replaced.
6) Tower and main building. - The main electrical switchgear needs to be replaced.
7) Water tank. - A 500,000 gallon water tank is 10 years overdue for reconditioning.
8) Hot water. - Temperatures are inconsistent. In some cases, too hot. In others, to cold. This is a DOH violation.
If County Council approves the McClure Compny energy plan tonight, final engineering will be complete in November and December. Work will start work in January and be done by year's end. Stoffa told Council it would take the County at least five years before a shovel hit the ground because of all the bidding and other requirements placed on government.