The town of Shirley has posted a Special Town Meeting, on Aug. 5, in the auditorium of the Ayer-Shirley Middle School to present details on the energy savings program the town is planning to implement with in partnership with Woburn-based ABM Industries.
The energy savings program would be procured under M.G.L. c. 25A and requires that ABM provide a written guarantee of the operational and financial performance of the energy savings investments installed. Under this program, the town is seeking Town Meeting approval to borrow $570,873 to pay for the investments and will use the annual energy and operational savings of almost $50,000 to pay the debt service. The energy savings program does not require a debt exclusion as the town will utilize existing operating budgets to pay annual expenses.
On July 8, at the Shirley selectmen's meeting, the board unanimously approved a Special Town Meeting for Aug. 5, at 7:15 p.m. at the middle school auditorium, to ask Shirley residents to consider borrowing to support a performance contracting initiative in Shirley, at NO added burden to the Shirley taxpayer. Performance contracting provides critical energy savings infrastructure upgrades on essential use equipment in town buildings and uses annual realized energy savings to pay for the upgrades. The energy savings generated from the program are guaranteed by ABM contractually and required by state law.
The energy efficiency upgrades planned for the town of Shirley span across seven buildings as well as a comprehensive streetlight upgrade program to today's LED technology. Key upgrades include upgrading the building envelope of each building including insulation and air sealing, installing efficient lighting upgrades, stabilizing the indoor climate and reducing the amount of wasted energy, replacing 209 street lights with new high-efficiency LED lights that will result in considerably reduced energy usage and provide clearer, more consistent light quality to make Shirley's streets safer, and converting three building's heating fuel from oil to less expensive natural gas.
The program is guaranteeing a 26 percent savings in units of energy and at today's rates, a 39 percent dollar savings equaling approximately $50,000 per year. During the expected 15-year term of the borrowing, the town will utilize the energy and operational savings to repay the debt service. Once the debt service is paid, annual energy savings will be available to meet other, nonprogram operational requirements as determined by the town.
According to Energy Committee Chairman Bryan Dumont, "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 ... The town will rely on the guaranteed energy savings to pay for the upgrades," Dumont added.
Energy Committee member and Town Treasurer Kevin Johnston added, "This programs enables the town to invest in our buildings, bringing them to peak operational performance, retire aging and failing equipment from our capital plan and improve the overall comfort and performance of our buildings ... Under the performance contracting law, the town is able to borrow money to improve the energy performance of our buildings without having to raise taxes to retire the borrowing. Without this program, we would likely need new revenue to pay for replacing the equipment when it failed," said Johnston.
The Shirley Energy Committee indicated this is a win-win opportunity for the taxpaying residents in Shirley. "We are using money that we are currently paying to the utility companies every month and instead repairing or replacing expensive operating equipment and adding efficient lighting in seven buildings," said Dumont.
Once the borrowing is paid for, the savings transfer directly into the town accounts to pay for things the towns needs in its operating budget.
A public forum will be held on Monday, July 29, at 7 p.m., Town Offices, Conference Room A/B, where the program will be explained in detail. The public and the press are invited.
Submitted by BRYAN DUMONT