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April 08. 2013 10:54PM

Manchester will recognize worker for ideas that save tax dollars

MANCHESTER - Leave it to an electrician to come up with a 'Bright Idea'.

John Baron, an electrician with Manchester's Environmental Protection Division, was selected last week by the city's Human Resources Committee as a reward recipient under the 'Bright Ideas' program.

Bright Ideas was established to improve the quality of city services by recognizing current employees who propose suggestions that directly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of city operations, or who offer ideas that significantly reduce safety risks in the workplace.

Baron submitted two cost-saving suggestions that together will save the city an estimated $52,916 in maintenance and energy costs.

His reward isn't quite on the same level. He will receive two $500 awards for his efforts, for a total of $1,000.

"I'm happy to be recognized," said Baron. "I know the economy is tough right now, and anything that leads to savings helps the taxpayers out."

The city's Environmental Protection Division (EPD) administration building lost power (supplied by PSNH) for 2 1/2 days during a storm in October, 2012, and city officials were looking into purchasing a generator to avoid similar situations in the future. The department estimated the price tag to be $35,000.

That was before the proverbial light bulb went off in Baron's head.

"I was walking around the building and the pump station, just trying to figure out if there was a better way to do this," said Baron. "Every dollar is tough to come by now."

Baron suggested tapping into an existing service line at the nearby pump station to supply power to the EPD administration building. That plan allows the back-up generator at the pump station to also serve as the back-up generator for the administrative building.

Using this method, the only costs incurred are $4,000 for PSNH poles and in-house expenses associated with making the proper electrical connections, which totaled $4,294.

The Bright Ideas Evaluation Committee put the cost savings of Baron's suggestion over purchasing a new generator at approximately $26,000. Also, because the charge for electrical usage will switch from the general rate of 7.11 cents to the large general user rate of 6.57 cents (1/2 cent per KHh), EPD should achieve a meter charge savings of roughly $10 per month.

Baron's second suggestion involved actual light bulbs.

Believing the costs associated with the city's roadway lighting was excessive, he suggested changing from 454 watt bulbs to 146 watt LED lighting, and applying to PSNH for a rebate. PSNH qualified the project and supported it with an energy rebate of $18,116. The light maintenance cost reductions are projected to translate into savings of $8,800 over five years. The city should also save electricity in the switch.

Monetary awards under the Bright Ideas program can fall under two categories - Improved Efficiency and Effectiveness, and Improved Safety of Operations. The awards range from a minimum of $500 for an idea involving a single department, to $1,500 for one that can be applied citywide. The maximum cumulative award for any one individual (before taxes) is $3,000.

The two awards have been submitted to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for final approval. If okayed, the $500 awards will be paid to Baron through the city's payroll system.

pfeely@unionleader.com





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