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Monday February 8th, 2016 8:30PM

Hall says no to energy savings contractors

By Jerry Gunn Reporter
GAINESVILLE - A display of compressed natural gas powered vehicles at the Hall County Government Center Thursday did not persuade Hall County Commissioners to vote yes.

They turned down both companies vying for an energy savings performance contract. Commissioners voted against both Siemens and Pepco on proposals to cut power costs. Commissioner Scott Gibbs made the motion to deny Pepco's contract offer, saying energy savings could be accomplished in house.

This was good news to Sheriff Gerald Couch, who did not want his patrol cars running on compressed natural gas.

"It just does not work for law enforcement vehicles," Couch said. "As it stands right now, the technology is not there yet for law enforcement."

The Sheriff said he learned the King County Washington Sheriff's Department and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department phased out CNG vehicles because of there were too many problems. The Sheriff said he would take another look at it if technology makes CNG powered sheriff's patrol cars more practical.

Commissioner Craig Lutz argued for Pepco, saying a system using land fill generated gas in vehicles could cut fuel costs to seventy five cents a gallon and the savings was worth it.

"Our county spent last year somewhere in the magnitude of $2.4-million for petroleum,' Lutz said. "We can get gas out of our landfill for 75 cents a gallon."

Lutz added that the gas would be a renewable resource.

Commissioner Jeff Stowe agreed with Sheriff Couch; now is not the time for CNG powered patrol cars and he did not want to gamble taxpayer money on them.

"If we want to let's take $20-million to Vegas and put it on black and see what happens," Stowe remarked. "I don't want to do that with taxpayer money."

Stowe also questioned the savings that Commissioner Billy Powell announced with the Siemens contract saying Siemens had reduced their contract cost to $2.1-million;Powell made a motion to approve Siemens.

"What I saw was nowhere near close to the $2.1-million," Stowe said, citing information from the energy team. "Quite a few have an extended period of payback."

Following Stowe's remarks Powell's motion failed 3-2. Powell and Lutz voted for Siemens with Chairman Dick Mecum, Stowe, and Commissioner Gibbs voted no.The Pepco contract failed 4-1; Lutz cast the only yes vote.
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