Energy plan goes to town meeting

By Jason Harris - Staff Writer
Colchester - posted Tue., Jan. 15, 2013

The town of Colchester has had three public forums at the Town Hall to give residents information about a $3.5 million energy project.

The projected savings from this project, the Energy Performance Contract, are about $285,000 annually, Public Works Director James Paggioli said. These savings will pay for the project over 12 years and after that the money will be retained by the town.

The town is planning on spending a portion of the money already being spent on energy such as electricity, water, heating and oil to install more efficient systems so as to reduce the amount of energy the town consumes, Paggioli said. With less energy consumed, the town can take those savings and purchase more energy-efficient equipment, which can save enough money to pay for themselves over a period of time.

The town spends about $1.5 million on total energy expenses, according to the audited figures from the 2010–11 fiscal year that Paggioli showed during his slide presentation. That total was made up of the five energy sources the town utilizes: $1.2 million for electricity, $239,153 for heating oil, $76,231 for water, $19,847 O&M/phone lines and $14,410 for propane.

Improvements would take less than a year to implement, Paggioli said. Total energy use would be reduced by 18 percent, he said.

Honeywell, the energy services company the town has chosen, determines what energy savings the town can obtain and the cost to upgrade the equipment necessary to achieve those savings, Paggioli said.The savings from these improvements are guaranteed by Honeywell. If the savings don’t happen, Honeywell would pay the town the difference between the estimated savings and the actual cost, Paggioli said.

This project began five to six years ago when the town formed an energy task force to look into how Colchester spends on energy and ways to go ahead and save on energy, First Selectman Gregg Schuster said. “We’ve tried to set this up in a way that the town is 100 percent protected and there won’t be any adverse effects,” he added. “It’s going to save energy over time, but also has the added benefit of guaranteeing that it will not cost the town anything more than what we are paying right now. Hopefully, we’ll see more savings than anticipated.”

The town already has spent $32,000 on an energy audit by Honeywell and consulting firm Celtic Energy, Inc.

The boards of finance and selectmen voted to move forward with the project last month. The Board of Education had previously voted to support the project. If this project is approved, it can be completed in nine months, Paggioli said.

“I think it’s an excellent project to get underway,” said Colchester resident Joe Cronin. Cronin said the 12-year cycle of time is the best results for savings.

There will be a town meeting about the project at Bacon Academy on Jan. 23, at 7 p.m.

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