OC moves forward with energy infrastructure upgrades

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Special to The Leader

Years of financial constraints have led Orange County to issues with its HVAC systems and facilities. As a result, the County decided to collaborate with The Way Companies, a Vidor-based facility solutions service provider, to upgrade the County’s aging infrastructure.

Previously, County staff encountered issues with odor, humidity, and leaks. The core issues are typical of what many other counties across the Lone Star State are confronting. Aging infrastructure and deferred maintenance, particularly in rural counties, are a growing problem across the nation. Orange County Commissioners were committed to finding a solution that would not break the County budget or raise taxes.

“We needed a program that would be proactive and not reactive. This will give us better control of our future budgets and operation of the facilities,” said Precinct Two Commissioner Barry Burton.

The Way Companies proposed energy conserving measures, or ECMs, in 39 buildings throughout the County. A partial list of the improvements included HVAC replacements and retrofits; new direct digital controls (DDCs), interior and exterior lighting retrofits and retro commissioning of HVAC systems. Way Companies will also perform facility improvement measures that will provide electrical, façade and structural repairs. The project will also encompass the replacement of two generators at the jail that were not originally designed to handle the full load of the jail. Several other generators throughout the county will receive upgrades as well. The program required no up-front capital and will result in projected annual operational savings of $383 thousand and approximately $22 thousand in annual demand response incentives.

County Judge Stephen Brint Carlton was eager to see the issues plaguing Orange fixed while simultaneously lowering the utility bills. “We chose the Way Companies to help us accomplish this for several reasons. They are local, responsive, and addressed the County’s needs in a cost-effective way,” said Judge Carlton about the project. “I found Way’s willingness to customize the solution in order to meet our needs very refreshing and easy to work with,” he said.

Orange County will end up reducing 1,200 tons in annual carbon reduction, or equivalent to removing the CO2 emissions from 224 cars or burning over 1.2 million pounds of coal.

The project is expected to be completed in mid-2017.

The Way Companies specialize in mechanical design-build and demand-side energy management solutions for schools, cities, counties, commercial and industrial plants and facilities.