Modernizing Infrastructure Without Raising Taxes

Modernizing Infrastructure Without Raising Taxes

This piece was originally published in the March 2018 issue of electroindustry.

Thanks to an ESPC, Dallas County reduced its utility bills by 23 percent annually. Photo courtesy of Schneider Electric

Tammy Fulop, Vice President, Schneider Electric

Ms. Fulop leads a team that delivers performance contracting solutions for municipalities, universities, schools, and hospitals as well as the federal government.

As the ninth largest county in the United States with more than 2.3 million residents, Dallas County has undergone tremendous growth while establishing itself as a national leader. But to compete in a global marketplace, county officials knew they had to deliver what it takes to attract businesses of all sizes—workplaces with clean air and a vibrant economy. And they understood that change had to start with county buildings.

In 2011, the Dallas County Commissioners Court approved an aggressive efficiency program to

  • lower operational costs;
  • decrease energy use;
  • increase sustainability measures; and
  • enhance public image.

Dallas County officials partnered with Schneider Electric to implement a multiphase energy and infrastructure improvement project to address electrical distribution and energy-efficiency issues and improve safety and reliability of power across 54 county buildings.

Dallas County’s big picture included a wide variety of infrastructure and energy-efficiency improvements, including

  • lighting system upgrades with occupancy sensors and security features;
  • building automation system installation;
  • HVAC system upgrades; and
  • water conservation controls and fixtures.

The self-funding energy savings performance contract (ESPC) enabled Dallas County to modernize its infrastructure with energy-efficient equipment, providing an improved environment for employees and visitors while neutralizing the risk of system failures in critical facilities—all without raising taxes. According to the ESPC, the contract guarantees an amount of savings, and Schneider Electric will pay the difference if Dallas County does not realize that amount.

In total, the project reduces Dallas County’s utility bills by 23 percent annually, which equals $71 million in guaranteed energy savings over the term of the contract. The project has also made a significant environmental impact on the community by reducing carbon emissions by more than half a million tons—the equivalent of planting more than 636,000 trees to restore the environmental balance. It is also giving a boost to the labor market by creating the equivalent of more than 630 local jobs and driving an additional $90 million in business sales.

Dallas County has found a way to make a positive, lasting impact on the region without placing a tax burden on its residents. Officials would like the county’s sustainability program to serve as a model for other municipalities nationwide.

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