The construction for an energy efficiency project in Sebastian County is moving forward.

Sebastian County Judge David Hudson said the status of the project will be reviewed in a preconstruction meeting between the county and project staff from the Dallas-based company McKinstry that is expected to take place on Monday.

The Sebastian County Quorum Court approved an emergency ordinance authorizing the county to complete an energy-efficiency project during its regular meeting Nov. 21. It also approved an ordinance authorizing the funding of the Arkansas EPC Program for the county. EPC is a financing mechanism used to pay for energy efficiency improvements all at once, which are, in turn, paid back through annual energy savings.

Hudson said the other significant activity will be to meet with the financial company All American Investment Group (AAIG) to go over the agreement for financing the project, although the time for that has not been set yet. The project total is an amount exceeding $5 million, and the financing plan approved by the Quorum Court as part of the ordinance is over 15 years at 2.85 percent interest, according to an article previously published in the Times Record.

"... There's no fees on the financing," Hudson said. "... All American Investment Group receives their return on the difference between the interest rate and the bank rate, the company they got the money from, so there aren't any additional fees on that, and that's one thing we talked about in the Quorum Court meeting that I'd wanted to clarify."

Although Hudson said he does not know the exact time construction will start for the energy efficiency project, he said it will begin this month. He assumes that the county and McKinstry will be focusing on the facility improvement measures that relate to the Sebastian County Adult Detention Center as a priority, which will be verified during Monday's meeting. This includes replacing the boiler at the facility.

"The current boiler was installed in 1994, and it's ... toward the end of its useful life," Hudson said. "It's still functional, but it either needs major repairs or replacement, and it's been evaluated over the last year and a half."

Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck said the new boiler will provide a better service overall to the entire detention center. 

"... The most important thing is it's going to save taxpayers money not having something that is not working as efficient as it can be," Hollenbeck said. "So having an efficient boiler system then, we're not going to run out of hot water."

In a presentation to the Quorum Court during its Sept. 19 meeting, Michael Grabham, the south regional director of McKinstry, said some facility improvement measures would be applied to all county buildings while others would be applied for specific buildings, such as the detention center.

Construction for the project is anticipated to end by August, Hudson said.

"Once the systems are in place, then ... ongoing measurement and verification will be done intensely for the next three years, and then we'll evaluate how thorough the measurement and verification should be done thereafter," Hudson said. "I'm sure we'll continue it after three years. It just won't be as intense or as engaged because we'll have a three-year record of the impact and the verified savings."

A section in Article 3 of the emergency ordinance approved by the Quorum Court states if the annual energy or operating costs fail to meet or exceed the annual costs of the energy efficiency project as required by the guaranteed energy cost savings contract, McKinstry will reimburse the county for any shortfall of guaranteed energy cost savings over the term of the guaranteed energy cost savings contract.