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COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County’s government has taken significant steps to reduce its expenditures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Newton County Board of Commissioners took action by appointing Alexander Tomas and Associates Inc. (ATA) to assist with utility cost reduction endeavors under a performance arrangement, a news release stated.
ATA brought unique bill and energy tracking technology, while possessing over 30 years experience in Georgia’s complex electricity rates market.
The project results were formidable with no capital outlay and over a half a million dollars saved to date.
In late 2019, County Manager Lloyd Kerr was faced with budget challenges and made the decision to focus cost-reduction efforts on utilities, including electricity, natural gas, water and sewer, the release stated.
“We had a number of older buildings and some new. No bill audits had ever been done. Utility billing is something that can be very complex,” Kerr said. “We wanted to make sure that we were being billed correctly and that we were being as efficient as possible with the equipment that we had.”
For Year 1 with ATA, Newton County improved utility pricing and obtained refunds for a total net savings of $354,808 — approximately 12% of total utility expenditure. In Year 2, the recorded utility pricing reductions and additional recovered refunds resulted in a $195,420 net savings or about 6.5% of total utility expenditure. Year 3’s expectations are a net savings of $250,000.
The process began with ATA capturing historical utility billing and usage data in their technology platform (UtilityTRX). This first step provided the foundation for the cost-cutting efforts. Equipped with the UtilityTRX exception reporting, Jason Johnson, director of Building Services, worked to mitigate obscure issues that fall below traditional accounting systems’ radar.
Some of the more common issues identified included equipment malfunctions, leaks, and building control optimization opportunities.
In the next step, ATA’s team members were tasked with scrutinizing monthly utility charges, while optimizing pricing and rates. Finally, UtilityTRX technologies were used to measure and validate (or dispute) energy savings-based invoices for the 2018 HVAC system upgrades.
Alex Tomas, president of ATA, stated, “Newton County is one of our great success stories. We look forward to our ongoing efforts in partnering with the county to manage their utility expenses.
“The Newton County Board of Commissioners is actively considering Phase II Real-Time HVAC Oversight that will protect HVAC assets from premature disrepair, while reducing maintenance and labor costs. And that’s exciting!”