Neel-Schaffer, an engineering firm based out of Jackson, was selected Thursday by the Clay County Board of Supervisors to provide the county with engineering services for the county's energy efficiency project.
The county was recently awarded an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant through the Mississippi Development Authority for $52,331. With these funds, lighting retrofitting will be done to the Clay County Health Department, the Clay County Courthouse and the Justice Court Building. Out of the grant, $4,120 will go towards the engineering services.
The board received proposals from two other firms: Power Engineering Services of Meridian and Bill Mann Architect of Starkville. Board members rated the three firm's proposals on qualifications, experience and whether or not the firms had adequate staff. The board could give up to 30 points for each category, and Neel-Schaffer received the most points.
Phyllis Benson, project analyst for the Golden Triangle Planning and Development, advised the board that they would benefit from having someone who has experience in the stimulus program from which the EECBG was developed and said Neel-Schaffer has that experience. Neel-Schaffer performed energy audits on different buildings in several Mississippi cities in anticipation of those cities applying for the EECBG to do energy projects. City leaders in the cities of Artesia, Tchula, Moorhead and other cities, were able to see how much they could save annually on energy with the help of Neel-Schaffer.
Advertisement for the completion of the retrofitting work will begin shortly after Neel-Schaffer develops the specifications for the work that needs to be done. Engineers from Neel-Schaffer will then meet with the board to evaluate the bids received from contractors and will help the board choose the best contractor.
Benson said “with federal dollars comes federal rules,” and every month she, as project analyst, has to send a report that shows county and city expenditures, such as man hours worked on projects, which will help show how many jobs are created and how much energy is saved through this stimulus program. She said there are “buy American” clauses that must be strictly followed in the use of this money, and everything purchased for the retrofitting project has to be made in America.
Benson said the county has one year to spend the $52, 331 energy grant.
“Mississippi is one of 16 states being looked at extra hard for expenditures,” Benson said. “They want to see this money spent quickly. They want to see some activity on this project.”