Andrea B. Bond
Work began in April on a fuel-switching project at Huttonsville Correctional Center in Randolph County that will save money and make the facility a little greener.
The project, funded by the State Energy Program/American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and conducted by Mountaineer Gas, will cost $2.1 million and is expected to be completed within 10 months. It will reduce annual operating costs for West Virginia’s most expensive facility to heat by more than $400,000. This project, which will upgrade the existing natural gas distribution system in the area approximately eight miles to the correctional facility, also reduces our dependence on imported oil.
Huttonsville, the oldest and largest facility in the state, was built in the 1930s, said Ad Oji, contracts manager with the West Virginia Division of Corrections.
“When Huttonsville was built, it used a coal-fired furnace. Then they went to propane and heated oil and now they are moving to natural gas.”
By switching from an oil heating system to natural gas, the facility will have a uniform heating source, he explained. Once the switch to natural gas is completed, the facility is estimated to realize an annual savings of $400,597 per year, with a five-year payback period.
“I would like to express my gratitude to Jeff Herholdt, Kelly Bragg and Marie Butler of the West Virginia Division of Energy for their assistance with this project,” Oji said. “None of our achievements would have been possible without them.”
Huttonsville, along with Mount Olive Correctional Complex in Fayette County and Pruntytown Correctional Center in Taylor County, also is undergoing an energy upgrade. The project will first determine the energy savings opportunities and then will install the recommended new equipment.
“The work consists of improvements to make the buildings energy efficient. We’re looking at HVAC systems and lighting in those facilities,” Oji said.
“These upgrades will make it a little less heavy on the carbon footprint. Some of the systems that are going to be replaced are old and not as environmentally friendly as what we will be able to do in 2010 with ENERGY STAR ratings.”
With an improved heating system in place, “it is important to also ensure the windows are updated to realize the benefit of the fuel switch.”
Denmar Correctional Center in Pocahontas County also is set to get new windows. Built in 1939, the facility originally served as a hospital for TB patients, Oji said. “It is heated by oil, and when it gets too hot, they don’t have a thermostat or any way to regulate the temperature in the building.”
Rapidly changing outdoor temperatures result in frequent opening and closing of windows, he explained, which wastes a lot of heat.
“We are hoping that we get additional funding to update that building so it will have central heating and cooling, but in the meantime, we are replacing the windows with more energy efficient models.”