Stimulus money coming to Middle Georgia facilities

Central State Hospital will get new devices that automatically turn off lights after people leave rooms. The Reaves Arena at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter will get a space-age roof coating that slashes utility bills by reflecting sunlight. Fort Valley State University will get new lighting.

Those efforts are among more than $3.7 million in area projects expected to save taxpayers about $1 million a year.

Federal stimulus money just allocated is planned to put construction workers, architects and door manufacturers back to work, while ultimately saving money. The average local project is expected to pay for itself in about four years, state estimates show.

At Macon State College, nearly $300,000 in federal stimulus money will help the university replace decades-old ventilation systems that are inherently inefficient, said David Sims, the plant operations director.

While the air conditioning is on in the Learning Support Building and the Sciences Annex, the boilers also have to be on, ready to supply heat that can balance out some of the air conditioning. Such systems were standard in the 1960s and 1970s, Sims said, but new technologies mean the changes will pay for themselves in just three years.

Georgia College & State University will install new meters on 36 campus buildings, monitoring everything from landscape irrigation systems to natural gas demand. Campus officials plan to use that data to identify more savings, which means that system would also pay for itself in about three years. The college also will install more flexible heating and air controls in the Maxwell Student Union.

Judy Bailey, a spokeswoman for Georgia College, said the college drew about 17 percent of the money awarded to the entire university system. It didn’t get money for proposals to phase out its steam piping system or to replace outdoor lights with LEDs.

It wasn’t clear which state-owned buildings would get projects. The Department of Agriculture is considering new lighting and solar panels for farmers markets, but it hasn’t determined whether Macon’s facility will receive those. State agencies didn’t provide breakdowns for work that could be done at area prisons and detention centers.

The projects had to qualify for the federal stimulus money as well as Gov. Sonny Perdue’s Energy Challenge, which aims to slash state energy bills by 15 percent.

To contact Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.