Columbiana considers energy proposal

COLUMBIANA – The city may spend $352,000 over three years to save money on energy costs now and later.

Council recently heard from Randy Corbin, assistant vice president of energy policy and sustainability for American Municipal Power (AMP).

The city purchases its power from AMP and in turn is eligible for participation in its Efficiency Smart program focused on providing energy-efficiency and implementation services.

The city has already participated in the program and a three-year contract renewal is needed to continue through 2016.

Launched in 2011, the program has saved energy for some Columbiana businesses, including Compco, Specialty Ceramics, Century Container, 4Wheel Drive Hardware, Das Dutch Haus, Circle K, AT&T, Vari-Wall Tube Specialists, Specialty Ceramics, Rance Industries, and the Columbiana Boiler Company, Corbin said.

Total megawatt hour energy saved amounted to $70,118 annually, he added.

The program saves energy by offering incentives to participants such as discounted CFLs, which can be purchased with coupons and through an online lighting store, rebates on efficient residential appliances and equipment and recycled appliances, and the distribution of efficient light bulbs through community outreach activities.

Corbin said the program provides incentives for 19 appliances and they are currently looking into incentives for air conditioners.

“We are always trying to come up with new ways to save money,” he said.

Incentives and buy downs come out of the program fee, he added.

Business energy rebates are also available for midsized companies using between 20 mwh and 500 mwh of energy annually, according to his report.

City Manager Lance Willard said the city receives about $4,000 in incentives through the program.

Those incentives were available as a result of the city embarking on a few lighting projects, he added.

The program sets energy savings goals and if those are not met participating municipalities are refunded for guaranteed savings not delivered, according to information available at

Corbin said the city will pay $25 per megawatt hour through the program, which he calculated to be less than other power supply sources such as coal, wind, solar, natural gas and hydroelectric.

For $352,675, the city as a whole would save $41,606 a year during the three-year contract, he said.

Lifetime customer savings from energy cost reductions are upwards of $1.2 million, he added.

Councilman Bryan Blakeman didn’t necessarily agree with those figures, and argued the $352,000 is a fixed cost while the lifetime estimate is not fixed.

“The costs are conservative,” Corbin countered.

If the city continues to use the program, residents would be paying slightly less than the .0015 cents per kilowatt hour they paid on the first contract, Corbin said.

That translates to roughly $50 to $60 a year, he noted.

Council approved a motion to draft an ordinance for participation in the program. If the city participates prior to January it will be eligible for efficiency grants, Corbin said.

The program has about $18,000 to $25,000 available in grant funding from revenue contribution during the first three years of the program, he said.

“There is a very sizable allocation of dollars available to those who renew,” he said.

Council also approved:

A request from Brenda Foor of the ADAPT Coalition to host a family fun day at Firestone Park on July 19 beginning at 5 p.m.

– A first reading of an ordinance authorizing the manager to enter into a utility pole agreement with the Chillicothe Telephone Company. The city would receive $1,200 a year for allowing the company to place fiber optic cables on the poles.

– A first reading of an ordinance to set temporary appropriations for the first three months of 2014.