Energy efficiency of Miller County government buildings nearing completion

Energy efficiency work crews continue improvements inside the Miller County Courthouse's Tax Assessor's Office. Work could be completed by the end of this month or by the start of next month. (Staff photo by Greg Bischof)
Energy efficiency work crews continue improvements inside the Miller County Courthouse's Tax Assessor's Office. Work could be completed by the end of this month or by the start of next month. (Staff photo by Greg Bischof)

TEXARKANA, Ark. - Four of Miller County's five main government office buildings are now more energy efficient and the fifth is on its way.

The Dallas-based McKinstry energy efficiency company recently finished installing heating, lighting, cooling and other electrical improvements in the county's Lantz Lurry Juvenile Detention Center, as well as in the county's health unit building, which used to be the Michael Meagher Memorial Hospital.

The firm also finished energy improvements in a building that now houses both the county's Office of Emergency Management and the Senior Adult Center, as well as in the county's newer Criminal Detention Center and Sheriff's Office building on East Street, said Miller County Judge Cathy Harrison.

All that remains is finishing energy improvements in the county's 1939 vintage courthouse, which Harrison said may tentatively take at least two or three more weeks.

McKinstry, which initially started its energy efficiency study of the county's five buildings in about the fall of 2019, completed its findings by the middle of 2020. A that time, the county's Quorum Court entered into an Arkansas Energy Office Performance Contract with the firm to conduct the building improvements.

From that point forward, Harrison said McKinstry first finished work on the building that houses both the senior center and OEM, then the health unit, followed by the JDC and finally the jail - all four completed just before 2020 ended.

She added that last month, the 19-year-old Sheriff's Office and criminal detention center building showed about $2,800 worth of energy savings for November as a result of the finished efficiency upgrades. The savings could potentially amount to as much as a $1.7 million savings over a five to 10-year period.

Harrison added that such a savings over 20-year period would be used to pay McKinstry back without causing any real expense for the county.

Presently, ongoing improvements to the county's courthouse include aged boiler replacement andinstalling a new central air conditioning system, which will replace the building's aged individual window air conditioning units, Harrison said.

By next month, the county's buildings will hopefully be about as energy efficient as any in the country.