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Projects could cut city utility bills

The city may be able to save more than $800,000 on its utility bills over the next 12 years if some proposed energy-efficiency projects pan out.

Norman D. Allen, director of engineering and public works, told the Common Council last week that the New York Power Authority would pay the entire cost of installing the projects if the city goes ahead with them.

The projects were tentatively identified through an inspection about a month ago by the Wendel Duchscherer engineering firm, which has a Power Authority contract for this region.

The Council voted Wednesday to allocate $9,035 to have the authority investigate the proposed projects to confirm the savings seen by Wendel.

Allen said the city would have the responsibility of awarding bids to contractors for the projects.

But under terms of an energy audit contract the Council approved Sept. 21, the Power Authority would pay the up-front construction costs "if they do this next phase and decide the savings are realistic," Allen said.

The city would have to reimburse the authority for its design work if it balked at doing the projects. But it seems more likely that the city will approve the work.

"If the savings are there like the Power Authority says, we'd be foolish not to," Mayor Michael W. Tucker said.

Allen said Wendel identified eight potential projects, but Allen said three didn't provide much in the way of payback.

The five that did, boasting 12-year savings totaling $871,778, include replacing lights in all city-owned buildings; replacing the 1974 electric boiler in City Hall; and caulking windows in all buildings.

In other matters at last week's meeting, the Council booted the Lockport Housing Authority and the Lockport Public Library out of the city's health insurance plans.

City Clerk Richelle J. Pasceri said Flexcare, the city's health insurance consultant, changed its mind about whether having those two sub-groups was a good idea. The housing and library employees are not part of the city payroll.

The city admitted the Housing Authority and the library to the insurance plans in 2010. Their ouster is effective Jan. 1.