By Katina Caraganis
SHIRLEY -- Voters will be asked to approve spending more than $500,000 at next month's Special Town Meeting to pay for green investments into various town-owned buildings.
The expenditure is expected to help the town save nearly $50,000 annually on its energy costs.
ABM Building Solutions, of Woburn, has been working with members of the town's Energy Committee to help develop energy-saving programs throughout the town. Under the partnership, the town is seeking approval from voters to borrow $570,873 to pay for green investments into various town-owned buildings.
The warrant article, as proposed, does not require a debt exclusion, according to Energy Chairman Brian Dumont, because the town will utilize existing operating budgets to pay annual expenses.
Representatives from ABM have guaranteed a 20 percent energy savings per year over 15 years. If savings are not achieved, they say the company will reimburse the difference to the town.
The energy-efficiency upgrades planned for the town span across seven town-owned buildings, as well as a comprehensive streetlight-upgrade program. Key upgrades include insulation and air sealing, installing efficient lighting, stabilizing the indoor climate and reducing the amount of wasted energy, replacing 209 streetlights with LED lights and converting three buildings' heating fuel from oil to natural gas.
Dumont said the program is guaranteeing a 26 percent savings in energy and at today's rates, a 39 percent dollar savings, which equals about $50,000 a year. Once the debt service is paid off, annual energy savings will be available to meet other non-program operational requirements as determined by the town.
Dumont said he is proud of the work he and other members of the Energy Committee have done to get this far.
"The Energy Committee has worked hard to develop a program that will allow the town to redirect budgeted dollars from going to Devens utilities and National Grid and instead invest in our buildings," Dumont said.
Town Treasurer Kevin Johnston, also a member of the Energy Committee, said that by investing in this program, the town can bring town buildings up "to peak performance, retire aging and failing equipment from our capital plan, and improve the overall comfort and performance of our buildings."
Selectman Bob Prescott said he hopes to get a recommendation from the Finance Committee as to whether the energy savings would pay for the borrowing and not actually impact taxpayers, but said he is not sure selectmen will see it before the Aug. 5 Town Meeting.
"I'm not seeing anything that's saying no," he said. "You could say I'm cautiously optimistic."
A public forum will be held at 7 p.m. on July 29 at Town Hall. The Town Meeting is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Aug. 5 at the middle school.
Follow Katina Caraganis on Twitter @kcaraganis.