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August 7, 2013

Methuen council approves $3.7M energy efficiency plan

METHUEN — The city will begin borrowing $3.7 million this fall to pay for dozens of energy efficiency improvements at municipal and school buildings.

The projects will be completed as part of an energy management contract approved Monday by the City Council. The work will be overseen by Ameresco, a Framingham-based energy services company.

City councilors unanimously approved the contract with Ameresco, a decision that was met by applause from members of the School Committee seated in the audience.

Before the vote, Mayor Stephen Zanni assured councilors that all costs associated with the energy improvements will be recouped through future energy efficiencies — approximately $300,000 annually over the next 15 years.

Council Chairman Sean Fountain likened the agreement with Ameresco to a capital improvement plan.

“It’s basically a CIP for facilities,” said Fountain.

Yesterday, Community Development Director William Buckley said the city will hold a preconstruction meeting with Ameresco in the coming weeks. Work on the improvement projects will likely begin in the fall, he said.

“We’ll have to work closely with the School Department and look at how the timing’s going to work,” said Buckley.

Among the projects planned by Ameresco over an 18-month period:

Replacing the leaky roof and ceiling at the Methuen High School ice rink and upgrading its dehumidifying system.

Installing new boilers at City Hall and the Quinn Building, home to the Police Department and school administrative offices.

Improving lighting systems, performing weatherization and installing energy management systems at City Hall, the water treatment plant, the Lowell Street fire station and all four city grammar schools.

“These are things, you look long-term, that have to be done,” Zanni told the council on Monday.

Ameresco was previously selected as a contractor by the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission and will perform similar work in North Andover, where Town Meeting voters approved a roughly $4 million contract earlier this year.

The company has already performed detailed energy audits at a dozen public facilities in Methuen.

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