The state Department of Corrections wants to tap into federal energy incentives to replace boilers, heating units and lighting at aging prisons across the state.
The agency is scheduled to go before the State Bond Commission Thursday for the approval of $31 million in what are called Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds. The Corrections Department is submitting the request through Louisiana Community Development Authority, which helps government with the financing for environmental projects.
Congress increased the bonds from $800 million to $3.2 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, more commonly known as the stimulus act. The goal of the low interest borrowing is to offer incentives for conserving energy.
“All of the facilities addressed in this project are at least 30 years old,” state Department of Corrections Undersecretary Thomas Bickham said. “Much of the equipment at these facilities is at least as old.”
Bickham said Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson is relying on a heated water system that dates to the 1950s, when the prison was built as part of a hospital.
“By using bonds to finance this project, the department can pay for the project with the savings generated from using less energy,” he said.
Bickham said the conservation bonds offer the lowest interest rate for borrowing money.
Pam Laborde, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections, said the agency plans to replace boilers that provide hot water to laundries, showers and kitchens; replace heating units that heat dormitories; replace chillers for administration buildings and infirmaries that need cold water for air-conditioning systems; replace lighting; and install systems that monitor thermostats.
She said the savings from the improvements will be used to repay the borrowing.
“There will be no out-of-pocket expense for the state or DOC on this project,” Laborde said.
The state Department of Corrections plans to spend:
• $9.6 million at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
• $8.7 million at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel.
• $2.8 million at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St. Gabriel.
• $2.4 million at Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson.
• $1.4 million at David Wade Correctional Institute in Homer.
• $1.3 million at B.B. Rayburn Correctional Center in Angie.
• $939,124 at C. Paul Phelps Correctional Center in DeQuincy.
• $726,913 at Forcht-Wade Correctional Center in Keithville.
• $537,590 at the agency’s headquarters in Baton Rouge.
The State Bond Commission oversees borrowing involving the state.
Also on Thursday’s agenda is a $500,000 loan by the East Baton Rouge Mortgage Finance Authority to help the Baton Rouge bus system.