EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 21, 2012

Energy management company faces questions

By Paul Tennant

---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Town Manager Andrew Maylor, who will soon complete his first year as North Andover’s chief executive, has often said he wants to reduce energy costs.

He proposed hiring Ameresco, a Framingham energy services firm, to achieve this objective. The June 12 Town Meeting, however, rejected a plan to borrow $4.3 million over 14 years to pay for various energy-saving measures recommended by Ameresco.

Finance Committee members, who opposed the plan, said they nevertheless wanted to continue talking about long-term energy cost savings. Maylor said the money saved by energy conservation measures, including replacement of windows and boilers, would actually pay for these improvements.

The Finance Committee discussed energy conservation Tuesday night and members have many questions about what would happen if the town signed a contract with Ameresco.

“Are we going to have to hire additional people?” Finance Committee member Matthew Remis asked. Remis chaired Tuesday night’s meeting because Chairman Alan LeBovidge and Vice Chairman Thomas Dugan were absent.

Remis also said North Andover officials should find out how other communities have fared by contracting with Ameresco. His colleague Donald Elliott recently spoke with officials in Portland, Maine, about that city’s experience with Ameresco.

Portland paid Ameresco $7.5 million to manage energy conservation measures, including new roofs and windows for city buildings, Elliott said. The Portland officials were satisfied with the company’s performance, he said, but they advised having a third party help the town in negotiating a contract with Ameresco.

The company offered Portland a “boiler plate” contract, but officials there cast it aside, Elliott said.

“We need a really good list of questions,” said William Callahan, appointed to the Finance Committee in July by Moderator Mark DiSalvo.