Abilene, Texas, is implementing a second series of energy efficiency upgrades to city buildings. The project's value is more than $1 million dollars, and will be paid for entirely with Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grants as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The facility enhancements are designed to improve operations, comfort and efficiency at 11 city buildings. In addition, project plans call for installing solar photovoltaic panels on the city's Civic Center.

Schneider Electric, a Palatine, Ill.-based company that specializes in energy management, will complete the work under a performance contract with the city. As part of the deal, the company guarantees that Abilene will reduce its utility costs by more than $28,000 annually when the project is completed in November 2010.

Earlier this year, the company completed a $9 million performance contract for Abilene that aimed to improve operations, security and efficiency at 34 city buildings and will save the city $12 million in utility costs during the next 15 years. The second series of energy efficiency upgrades aims to provide additional efficiency and savings for the city and targets failing equipment.

"Our second performance contract with Schneider Electric will provide the city with much-needed mechanical upgrades to the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems at several of our buildings, such as the zoo and the animal control building," said Odis Dolton, assistant director of finance for the city. "Furthermore, with the addition of solar panels at the Civic Center, the city is taking its first step into using renewable energy sources for city buildings."

Through the performance contract, the company guarantees the amount of savings the city will achieve and agrees to pay the difference if that amount is not realized. The city may achieve long-term benefits, such as improved facility efficiency, occupant comfort, financial management and environmental protection. Typically, new, more efficient equipment and upgraded facility automation systems boost energy efficiency and generate utility savings.

Some of the energy conservation measures that the company will employ on Abilene's second-phase project include retrofitting fixtures with LED lights, installing lighting occupancy sensors throughout primary city buildings, replacing HVAC units and installing a new cooling tower at the Civic Center facility.

"This second performance contract enables the city of Abilene to continue to achieve its facility enhancement goals, which include maximizing utility savings, standardizing equipment, reducing deferred maintenance and capital needs replacement, and implementing renewable energy," said Shon Anderson, vice president, sales, at the Energy Solutions group of Schneider Electric. "Thanks to the government stimulus funding for this project, the city gets to meet these objectives without any additional costs to the citizens of Abilene."