Carbon County will save a significant amount on its electricity bill in 2010.

The county held an electricity auction Tuesday morning in the hopes of getting a better price for the 2.7 million kilowatt hours the county uses annually. The contract the county chose to sign was for 23 months fixed with 10 percent green energy. Champion Energy Services of Houston, Texas submitted the lowest bid of 8.45 cents per kilowatt hour for that contract, which will take effect Feb. 1.

The reason for the action is because of the deregulation and electric rate hikes that took effect on Jan. 1. With the deregulation, the county would have been paying PPL Electric around 30 percent more for its electricity this year. In 2009, Carbon paid $700,000 between 8 and 11 cents per kilowatt hour to power all of its buildings.

Jason R. Ulshafer, principal of GreenPointe. Energy of Berwyn, Pa., the company hired by the county to execute the auction, said this auction helped the county save a significant amount for this year's electricity bill.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, added that if the county would have stayed with PPL, it would have spent between 11 and 15 cents per kilowatt hour in 2010.

He credited GreenPointe. Energy and World Energy Solutions Inc. for helping the county get better prices for energy, which includes 10 percent green energy that is produced through either solar, wind or water power.

The auction, which was completed over the Internet by GreenPointe. Energy, was broken into six categories 11-month fixed, 23-month fixed, 35-month fixed, 11-month fixed with 10 percent green energy, 23-month fixed with 10 percent green energy, and 35-month fixed with 10 percent green energy.

Seven energy suppliers – Direct Energy Business LLC of Pittsburgh; Champion Energy Services; Bluestar Energy Services Inc. of Chicago, Ill.; Liberty Power Company of Florida; Dominion Retail Inc. of Virginia; ConEdison Solutions of Valhalla, N.Y.; Exelon Energy Company of Chicago; and Suez Energy Resources of Houston – competed for Carbon's business.

During the auctions, which opened at 10:30 a.m. and began ending in five-minute intervals at 11:25 a.m., showed just how low these providers would go to obtain a contract.

Opening bids for each auction was set at 10 cents per kilowatt hour. Companies were then able to bid lower than that amount. It wasn't until seconds before the auction closed that many of the bids actually came in.

Carbon officials, as well as some Jim Thorpe Area High School students, were able to see firsthand how the auctions took place.

After all auctions were closed and lowest bidders announced, attorney Michael Ozalas, as well as GreenPointe Energy officials reviewed all information to determine which option would best suit the county's needs. One contract was then chosen.

This is only the first step Carbon County is taking to lower its energy costs and help the environment.

O'Gurek said in the near future, the county will be looking at ways to generate green energy at the county-owned buildings.

He used the example of placing solar panels on rooftops, and at the county prison and Emergency Management Agency on the Broad Mountain in Nesquehoning.

The county will also be looking at seeing where they could save on energy costs by using energy star products like low-mercury compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescent lights.