Georgia to Invest Millions to Lower Utility Bills at UGA, Georgia Tech, and Others

University of Georgia officials plan to invest up to $4 million to improve energy and water efficiency on the university's East Campus.  The money will be UGA's share of some $87.4 million in projects approved by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) and the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission, under the "Guaranteed Energy Savings Performance Contracting Program."  See the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority's press release for more information on the program.

Under the program, six state agencies will be allowed to hire outside contractors to evaluate existing buildings and come up with building projects that will increase energy efficiency and reduce water consumption. The state will borrow the money to pay for the program, but should be able to recover the costs through utility bill savings in just a few years.

The program is called the “Guaranteed Energy Savings Performance Contracting Program” because contractors will guarantee that the state agencies will be able to pay for the projects with the money they will save on utility bills as a result of the building projects, said Ralph Johnson, UGA’s associate vice president for facilities management.

Typically, such projects have a payback period of five to seven years, he said.

The biggest beneficiary of the program will be the state Department of Corrections, according to a recent GEFA announcement.

That agency is authorized to spend up to $28.6 million on efficiency contracts. The World Congress Center Authority can spend up to $28.1 million, the Georgia Department of Transportation up to $12.3 million, the Department of Juvenile Justice up to $3.1 million and the North Georgia Mountains Authority up to $5.1 million at its lodges and resorts.

The UGA projects will come out of $10.2 million authorized by the University System of Georgia for pilot projects at UGA and at Georgia Tech.

It will take some time before contractors begin work on the East Campus projects, Johnson said.

“We’re in the process of finding and selecting a contractor to work with,” he said.

UGA officials plan to ask three or more qualified companies to submit proposals, and then will choose one to work with, he said.

“We are hoping to have a contract awarded by spring of 2015,” he said.

Among the East Campus buildings the contractors will be asked to examine for utility efficiency improvements are the Animal and Dairy Science Building and the Ramsey Student Center, which actually has a bigger footprint than Sanford Stadium.

The projects at Georgia and Georgia Tech are considered pilot projects; if they succeed as expected, the program could be expanded in later years, he said.

UGA has already put millions of dollars of internal funds into energy and water improvements over the last decade.