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New cooler, generators installed at Missoula Courthouse

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Mar 13 2013 07:47:35 PM MDT
Updated On: Mar 13 2013 09:19:42 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

New additions to the Missoula County Courthouse should make it cooler, more energy efficient and safer.

If you were downtown early Wednesday morning you might have watched crews install some massive equipment. Welcome new generators and a water cooler.

A crane operator and crew maneuvered a shiny, heavy air cooling unit onto a platform in the uppermost reaches of the historic building. It was tight quarters and not a good place if you had vertigo

The view from that high was amazing. Workers plunked the unit down with no trouble at all.

"Look at the narrow space they're in," said onlooker Robert Walker."They've got to know what they're doing."

The new air cooling unit cost the county $140,000. But it's designed to reduce power consumption 20 to 25 percent, and should save money on top of that. It has high efficiency motors.

"And variable speed drives," said county facilities manager Larry Farnes, "so we can vary the amount of energy it takes to balance the cooling load."

Senior building operator Brad Smalley said the old unit was wearing out.

"We were starting to have problems with it and we would have needed to invest money into it to keep it going this year," said Smalley.

Workers spent Wednesday walling in two brand new generators. They replace one old generator that's 40 years old. The units provide support for the critical operations power system called COPS.

It might be double insurance to protect county servers and 911 from any kind of crash.

"If we lose power we could, with two generators, run all the county services," said Farnes.

There's also a 2,000 gallon fuel storage tank next to the generators.

"It's bomb proof I'm told," said chief financial officer Andrew Czorny. "And will supply those generators for many, many weeks if needed."

The COPS system cost $600,000 and is paid for by a federal grant.