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Energy County aims to improve energy usage from within

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Posted: Friday, October 26, 2012 12:30 am

LIHU‘E — There are three simple ways to improve electric sustainability, according to County Energy Coordinator Ben Sullivan.

Sullivan and County Sustainability Manager Glenn Sato addressed the Lihu‘e Business Association during an early morning meeting Thursday at Duke’s Kaua‘i.

Improving sustainability is easy, said Sullivan.

It starts with obtaining better information and data about usage, then looks for ways to use less and to generate more electricity.

To that end, Sullivan showed the group how county electrons are used.  

The biggest usage is from the Department of Water, who uses 38 percent of the county’s energy resources. Most of that usage comes from pulling water out of wells using pumps, but Sullivan said the department is looking at a way to drill horizontally to expend less energy.

“It’s a very exciting project,” Sullivan said of the project, which could potentially save customers money. “It’s not an easy project in any way, certainly, but it may or may not be viable to potential savings. We want to study it and make it happen because it is very valuable to our community.”

Wastewater uses 23 percent of the county’s energy. The four public wastewater facilities are looking to reduce their energy bills by 25 percent and under performance review right now, Sullivan said.

Public Works also uses 23 percent of the county’s energy resources, followed by street lights at 9 percent and parks at 6 percent.

The Public Works figure covers things such as air conditioning in county buildings, as well as other resources.

Glenn Sato said the county is looking to address government operations sustainability plan from “both the bottom up and the top down.”

Green Team members in various county departments are looking to improve sustainability several ways, Sato said. He outlines several initiatives including a paper reduction campaign to reuse paper and use electronic means more to conduct business.

The county is also looking to establish a thermostat policy in offices to determine a happy medium so that some employees aren’t freezing and sneaking space heaters under their desks as others are roasting.

One key area the county is looking into is refrigerator replacement. Sato said some refrigerators in county offices are 15 to 20 years old.

“Replacing those with Energy Star appliances will offer a payback within one year,” Sato said, adding that 16 to 18 units are currently targeted to be replaced.

He said the county is looking at offering a ride sharing program, along with increasing ridership on the bus and using more electric cars such as the five Nissan Leafs currently in use.

The county is also developing a “Disposables to Reusables” program for employees. The program would offer several kits that departments could reserve for parties that would include cups, dishes, utensils and washable napkins for 20 people. Sato said the snack shop in the Pi‘ikoi Building is already using reusable resources and wrapping sandwiches instead of using Styrofoam containers.

Sullivan praised recent efforts by a number of entities on the island, such as the Green Initiative Project at Kaua‘i Community College that was started in 2005 and the recent solar farm announcements from Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative.

“We are setting trends for the country to follow by planning for energy surety and assurance,” Sullivan said.

As Kaua‘i starts to become aware of resources being used and make changes, Sullivan feels there will be a successful energy future.

“It’s easier for us to go to the business sector to push lessons learned,” Sato said of the changes within the county. “We need to get our house in order.”

• Laurie Cicotello, business writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or business@thegardenisland.com

© 2015 Thegardenisland.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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