EERE Success Story—Energy-Saving Solutions in the Bluegrass State

October 9, 2015

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The City of Greensburg, Kentucky, established an energy savings performance contract to make HVAC and lighting improvements in several city buildings, saving money and improving comfort for building occupants. | Courtesy of Greensburg, KY

The City of Greensburg, Kentucky, established an energy savings performance contract to make HVAC and lighting improvements in several city buildings, saving money and improving comfort for building occupants. | Courtesy of Greensburg, KY

The Energy Department is continuing partnerships with state and local governments to advance efficiency in both energy and water use. One way of doing this is by implementing Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC), an approach to making improvements that reduce energy and water use and increase operational efficiency without upfront costs. Under the ESPC model, energy efficiency upgrades are paid for by future cost savings made by the upgrades themselves, over a set term. At the end of the ESPC, the customer owns the improvements and continues to reap the savings.

Supported by the Energy Department’s State Energy Program, the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet contracted with the Kentucky Department for Local Government (DLG) to establish a public facilities energy retrofit program to help city and county officials evaluate the feasibility of ESPC and to provide technical assistance throughout the ESPC process.  The goal of the program is to assist local governments in reducing energy consumption through increased use of ESPCs. Under an ESPC, an energy service company provides customers with a comprehensive set of energy conservation, renewable energy, and distributed generation measures and guarantees that the energy savings will finance the full cost of the retrofit project.

Through this program, Greensburg, Kentucky contracted with an energy service company to replace 300 water meter setters and more than 1,200 water meters. The new meters feature wireless technology that provides better leak detection and improved billing accuracy. The new technology also reduces staff hours devoted to water meter reading.

Greensburg also bundled energy-efficient improvements with the meter replacements.  The local energy service company made HVAC and lighting improvements in several city buildings that not only save energy, but also improve comfort for occupants. 

“In order for us to get all the work done that was needed, energy savings performance contracting was the logical method to tackle such a comprehensive set of needs,” Greensburg Mayor Lisle Cheatham said. “From defining the scope of work to financing, a performance contract just made sense.”

Inspired by the success, Greensburg continues to advance energy efficiency. The mayor and city council have now budgeted for a revolving loan program using on-bill financing to help both owners and renters upgrade their homes.

The Energy Department’s State Energy Program provides funding and technical assistance to energy offices in states and U.S. territories to advance local clean energy priorities while contributing to national energy goals.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) success stories highlight the positive impact of its work with businesses, industry partners, universities, research labs, and other entities.