BARSTOW The city of Barstow is looking for ways to pare down its energy use.

Utility bills cost the city roughly $1 million a year, according to Community Development Director Brent Morrow.

As a step towards reducing those payments, the city is looking at having a full audit of its energy use done by an outside entity. The Johnson Controls company has already completed a preliminary audit of all the city's facilities.

The city also plans to have another citywide preliminary audit done by Siemens Building Technologies and an audit of the city's wastewater plant by the California Energy Commission.

According to Morrow, the wastewater plant accounts for about one third of the total energy used by the city. When analyzing wastewater plants, the energy commission typically looks at ways to increase the efficiency in the pumping system, said Jim Holland, who heads up one of the commission's energy efficiency programs.

Lighting and HVAC systems are also areas where the audits often recommend upgrades, he said.

"We ask our auditors to look at cost efficient means only, which means the cost of the upgrade will be balanced out by energy savings," Holland said.

Other areas the audit might look at include insulation and the potential for solar or wind power.

The preliminary audits carry no costs, Morrow said, but it is unclear what the total costs will be if the city moves forward with a more in-depth technical audit. Once the city sees all three preliminary audits, it will decide which consultants will carry out the full energy audit and implement the energy-saving recommendations, city spokesman John Rader said.

A final report to the city would include an in-depth analysis of potential cost-saving measures and a time table for the return on the investment.

The city declined to release Johnson Controls' preliminary audit results until after the other preliminary audits are completed, to avoid prejudicing the process.

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