Council surges ahead with energy savings

Westmeath County Council aims to make a 33 per cent energy saving in the public sector by 2020, in line with national targets.

Senior executive engineer Ciaran Jordan presented the council’s Energy Efficiency Action Plan, which sets out 94 different measures to be undertaken to reduce energy consumption across the organisation, at last week’s meeting of Westmeath County Council.

“Energy efficiency is recognised as the most effective method of reducing greenhouse gases while also reducing costs,” Mr Jordan told councillors.

The council used an Energy MAP (Energy Management Action Programme ) to help them identify areas where they could decrease energy use, and therefore costs.

Westmeath County Council’s spend on energy decreased from €2.88 million in 2009 to €2.67 million in 2010 - a drop of 7 per cent - with the greatest reductions in the areas of water services, housing, and office accommodation.

The actual reduction in terms of energy, however, was just 2 per cent, whereas the target reduction as per the National Energy Efficiency Plan 2001-2020 was 3.3 per cent.

Of the 19.2 GWh (gigawatt hours ) of energy used by the council in 2010, electricity accounted for 67 per cent and diesel for 23 per cent.

Of the €2.67m spend in 2010, 41 per cent of the expenditure was on water services, 22 per cent on public lighting, and 17 per cent on the machinery yard, 5 per cent on offices, and 4 per cent on the swimming pool.

Mr Jordan concluded by suggesting areas where savings could be made. In water services, for example, a water conservation programme and mains rehabilitation will go a long way towards reaching the 33 per cent target by 2020; in ICT energy savings can be made through the night-time shutdown of PCs; and the machinery yard can reduce energy consumption through the use of a fuel card, weekly vehicle inspections, and eco driving.

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