Newtown Considers Energy Efficiency Project for Town Buildings

Public Works Director Fred Hurley said the project could provide improvements to most town buildings without capital borrowing.

Newtown officials are considering a contract with an energy services company, or ESCO, that will enable the town to get millions of dollars of energy efficiency improvements to town buildings at little or no cost.

Public Works Director Fred Hurley said the company, Amaresco, headquartered in Framingham, Mass., would arrange for private financing that would eliminate the need for the town to borrow on the bond market.

That means the entire project would be paid for through the town’s operating budget rather than through the capital budget, he said.

Hurley told the Public Buildings and Site Commission Tuesday that the cost to the town would be offset by the savings from lower energy bills over the 20-year contract.

He said if the town doesn’t save as much money as projected by Amaresco’s energy audit, the company would have to pay the difference.

The project might also benefit from low-interest loans from the state and from energy credits from Northeast Utilities.

The work could include replacing boilers and HVAC systems, installation of solar panels and wind energy generators, replacing old windows and adding insulation.

Hurley said there would be a presentation of the plan to the Legislative Council on Aug. 1, along with a request for a $50,000 appropriation for the energy audit.

The audit would establish the baseline, which would be used to determine the extent of energy savings from the project, and also determine what kind of energy efficiency work would be done and to which town buildings.

Thomas Crafts July 26, 2012 at 10:22 AM
Off balance sheet financing, WOW!
Len Destin July 26, 2012 at 10:55 AM
So correct me if I'm misreading this, but the energy company pockets any town energy savings for 20 years? Sounds like a sweet deal for them. Would love to know how many years out the town officials think it'll be before we breakeven on this project. Plus, in 20 years we'll all be running off of banana peels for energy anyway...
John Munro July 26, 2012 at 10:58 AM
Wow, something for nothing, this sounds too good to be true. First off the company is called Ameresco. It is a publicly traded company based in Mass. The problem with this idea, as I see it, is that a for-profit company is dangling a "get now pay later" scheme in front of us weary and broke taxpayers. Sounds a little like what rent-a-center or pay day loan companies who prey on the poor are doing. Typically the buyer or in this case the public ends up spending way more for the item than if they had just purchased it up front. Oh, you say we can't afford to purchase these savings up front. Well if Ameresco goes the way of Solyndra and we have a third party financing agreement in place I'm sure that third party will make us pay regardless of the energy savings we are seeing. Oh and lets not forget the $50k audit fee. If this is coming out of existing highway funds I would rather see some of it pay for repairs to our roads which bare an uncanny resemblance to some I've driven in the third world (Dinglebrook rd. comes to mind). Last point, why is it so hard for our town leaders to understand that when we buy now and pay later it not only burdens future residents who didn't have a say but the debt service line in the budget squeezes out school and town projects it makes it that much harder to pass the budgets, also costing us money. Don Quixote would love this scheme.
B T July 26, 2012 at 11:13 AM
The town of Enfield tried doing this a few years back when I was living there. I was not involved in the process but was close to the people who were. The mayor worked hard to educate the citizens but in the end, they voted it down. There were too many rumors and mis-information for the governing body to overcome. But it was a legitimate offer (might have even been the same company) and would have saved the city untold dollars over the long term, and would have been zero out-of-pocket expense budget-wise. It would seem to me that these energy companies are soliciting businesses from municipalities as a way to expand their market penetration while at the same time offering efficiencies. It's a win-win but it'll be an uphill battle to convince (or rather educate) the public on this one. Hope it works.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com July 26, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Making investments in infrastructure is great and hopefully some investments pay off. This sounds like a sneaky way around a lot of provisions in our charter, not to mention the holly grail of reducing our capital expenditure to 9%. Sounds more like the $3.5 million dollar parking lot that they called a negative lease. No matter how you slice it we are borrowing and most likely at a higher rate than we could bond the money. If the savings from these investments are so good just go the capital route, get taxpayer approval and use the savings to cover costs. No reason to do a convoluted scheme. Kinda like saying the Oakview field only cost $48,000. Maybe the taxpayers were stupid years ago, but not anymore. Lots of smart finance people will see through this play in a New york minute. As for the $50,000 for a survey, is this another little hidden pot of money our elected officials also failed to tell us existed, I thought we reduced the budget down to the bare bones. so where do they think we are going to find this $50,000.
Sam Mihailoff July 26, 2012 at 01:03 PM
oh oh...Bruce>>>>> "sneaky way around a lot of provisions in our charter" TONE IT DOWN..you promised, remember!!!
Paul Alexander July 26, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Incurring debt....personal or municipal, publicly financed or privately financed...is a BAD idea during a period of time that history and hindsight will declare to have been a deflationary depression. You end up paying off your debt with increasingly more valuable dollars. It is municide. And, in my opinion, just PROPOSING additional debt at this time rises to the level of public official misfeasance that will HARM THE TAXPAYERS. The town needs to live within their revenues. Period.
Big Family July 26, 2012 at 01:59 PM
I can not believe this! You know what saves money everytime? no risk, no worries...NOT SPENDING MONEY!
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com July 26, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Sorry Sam, didn't think my comments were inappropriate. Sneaky seems like a fitting word here, but perhaps I should have just used " getting around". So on a more serious note Sam, what do you think of using this kind of "funding" for capital expenditures. Do you think it should go through the capital process and be voted on by the taxpayers, or do you think elected officals can just do the deal.?
Sam Mihailoff July 26, 2012 at 04:46 PM


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