Ocean County has received almost $1 million in incentives for upgrading its energy systems

OC received $1M in incentives for energy upgrades

Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari announced that Ocean County has received almost $1 million in incentives for upgrading its energy systems.

"We keep a close eye on energy costs in Ocean County government," Vicari said. "By installing high tech, energy efficient systems, we are realizing the substantial savings that comes along with it.

"Ocean County is a leader when it comes to making certain our buildings are powered with clean and efficient energy," he said. "These steps help save money and protects our environment."

The centerpiece of the County's energy program was the installation of the Combined Heat and Power & Fuel Cell (CHP) at the Ocean County Justice Complex at 120 Hooper Ave., here.

The large non-descript white box like structure located on the west side of Hooper Avenue is the 600 kW natural gas fueled CHP system that generates electricity to power the Ocean County Justice Complex, while capturing and using the waste heat for space heating, cooling, and water heating.

The Justice Complex is a multi-use facility housing courtrooms, some of the divisions of the Ocean County Sheriff's Office, jail facilities and other government functions. It is traditionally heavily used by the public.

"This project is anticipated to generate more than 4.7 million kWh of electricity annually," Vicari said.

As the project, a recommendation of the energy audit, got underway, Ocean County officials were notified that the County will receive $1.1 million in incentives from the state Board of Public Utilities for the installation of the energy efficient heating and cooling system at the Justice Complex.

"These kinds of incentives make undertaking the energy master plan extremely worthwhile," Vicari said. "This is an important step in the work Ocean County has been doing to create more energy efficient facilities."

The CHP system includes manual blackstart and islanding capabilities, which allow the CHP system to operate and provide power to the connected buildings during major grid outages.

"It's important that we have a reliable energy system to keep the power on in our buildings during storms on other incidents that can result in the loss of power," Vicari said. "Ocean County government needs to continue to function during these times and the CHP has been doing its job while saving us money."

The county received the $1.1 million incentive in phases as work moved forward on installing the CHP. The first incentive in the amount of $330,000 was paid in February 2018, following the County's purchase of the system's major components. The second incentive in the amount of $660,000.00 was received on July 6, 2020. A third incentive in the amount of $220,000 remains outstanding and will be paid upon the submission of 12 months of data demonstrating the project is achieving the required performance requirements.

Ocean County's request for an additional $110,000 blackstart incentive was approved after the County demonstrated the CHP had blackstart capability a procedure for a generating unit to go from shutdown condition to an operating condition delivering electric power without assistance from the electric system.
Ocean County anticipates saving almost $400,000 annually as a result of the CHP.

"Our work along with the state Board of Public Utilities will result in energy savings for years to come," Vicari said. "The system is anticipated to generate more than 4.7 million kWh of electricity annually."

"We did a lot of homework before moving forward with these plans to install the CHP," Vicari said.

Other energy improvements implemented by the county included new chillers and related equipment were installed in the Justice Complex. There were also upgrades to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and the installation of new energy management systems.

"All of these improvements allow for a more efficient and cost effective way to control our heating and cooling units," said Vicari, who is liaison to the Ocean County Department of Buildings and Grounds. "Ocean County taxpayers will benefit from these upgrades as we reduce our energy costs for years to come."

"The original energy audit was the result of an exhaustive examination of six facilities that receive a lot of traffic both from the public and with our employees," Vicari said. "That is why they were chosen for this initial review by the BPU."

In addition to the Justice Complex the other facilities included the Ocean County Courthouse, the Ocean County Administration Building, the Ocean County Jail, the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office and the parking garage all in downtown Toms River.

"These facilities total 1,022,775 square feet," Vicari said. "They produce an annual energy bill of $2.3 million."

The BPU's Clean Energy Program promotes increased energy efficiency and the use of clean, renewable sources of energy. The County began the process in late 2014 to participate in the Local Government Energy Audit to identify cost-justified efficiency measures. The audit results provided the Board of Freeholders with a framework for various energy alternatives that can be implemented.