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Hall commissioners weigh energy projects
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Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tom Oliver hopes to call a joint meeting with city councils and schools to discuss the merits of internal sales tax collections for Hall County.
He hopes officials will be able to work together to urge legislators to allow Hall County to collect its own sales taxes.
Currently, the state department of revenue collects sales taxes and sends a portion back to the municipalities.
But county officials have estimated they are missing sales tax revenues from about 30 percent of the businesses in Hall County.
Also at the meeting, Hall County Administrator Charley Nix asked the commission to approve opening 10 to 12 positions in Fire Services.

Hall County may soon be a little bit greener.

The county is considering a number of measures, including a methane gas recovery system, which would help the county save the environment and utility costs.

At its work session Monday, the Hall County Board of Commissioners heard the findings of a study conducted as part of the $760,000 federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant.

The study evaluated the county’s potential for energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy technology and material conservation using federal stimulus funds.

Chris Weitzel, project manager with EMC Engineers Inc., presented a number of ways the county could use the grant money to cut future utilities costs.

Among the more unusual is methane gas recovery from landfills.

The county could install a collection system that would capture methane gas from county landfills and use it to produce electricity and heat.

"It’s a good project that will pay back," Weitzel said.

According to Hall County Public Works Director Ken Rearden, recovering methane from the Allen Creek and Candler Road landfills would cost an estimated $2.7 million and yield around $558,000 annually from carbon credits. The county would be able to glean an additional $1.2 million each year through the sale of energy if the commission elects to invest $2.5 million for power generation.

"That’s revenue that will last 30 to 40 years," Rearden said.

But not all of the commissioners were keen on the idea.

"It sounds all warm and fuzzy, but I don’t know if it will work," Commissioner Bobby Banks said.

Commissioner Ashley Bell recommended looking at the success of similar projects in other counties before investing in the project.

Other suggestions from the study include using hybrid vehicles in county fleets, retrofitting county buildings with energy-efficient equipment and expanding recycling programs in schools.

"Building retrofits are going to be a big opportunity for the county," Rearden said. "I believe the educational program and working with the schools and churches to do the recycling is a big plus."

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