Milwaukee County says heating costs up by 25% over last year

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- With the prolonged frigid weather this winter -- and several stretches involving sub-zero temperatures, many are dealing with high heating bills. But what if you had to heat hundreds of huge, old buildings? That's what Milwaukee County is dealing with this winter, and its coming with a cost.

Milwaukee County buildings, like the Mitchell Park Domes and the Milwaukee County Courthouse involve heating hundreds of thousands of square feet.

"I would not be surprised if the heating bill for the Courthouse was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars," Milwaukee County Sustainability Director Gordie Bennett said.

Bennett monitors the heating of Milwaukee County buildings, and works to keep costs down.

He says since 2007, Milwaukee County has worked with energy efficiency contractors to make upgrades -- and the cost of making the upgrades is supposed to be paid for in energy savings.

While no one could provide a breakdown of what each Milwaukee County facility costs to heat, a county official says from January 2013 through January 2014, heating costs are up 25%.

"Energy costs money, and with a large organization like the county, with the large facilities, it certainly adds up," Bennett said.

With close to 6,000 electric meters, 200 to 300 gas meters and dozens of steam meters, plus monthly bills to match for the county to deal with, it adds, multiplies -- and most likely doesn't subtract when it comes to costs.

County officials say since 2007, the heat consumption went down by four percent, but with the cold this winter, that's more than wiped out.