By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Town Manager Andrew Maylor and other local officials hope a multi-million dollar energy savings plan will achieve a comeback at the May 21 annual Town Meeting.
Article 19 asks voters to borrow $4,049,027 to pay for a variety of energy-conserving measures in schools and other town-owned buildings. These will include more efficient heating systems and lighting as well as an energy management system, according to Facilities Manager Stephen Foster.
An efficient energy management system, Foster said, will automatically keep building temperatures warm during the day and cooler at night. A computer screen, he added, will enable an employee to find trouble spots without having to leave his or her desk.
“It’s a big benefit for the town,” said Foster, a civil engineer with more than 20 years experience in construction management. He’s been in his present job not quite two years.
Foster pointed out that a state law, Chapter 25A, permits communities to award contracts to energy-services companies that can perform multiple projects aimed at conservation. This frees the town or city from having to send out requests for proposals for each individual project, he noted.
Ameresco Inc., the Framingham energy-services firm that did an energy audit of the town’s buildings, has promised that if its efforts do not result in significant energy savings, it will pay the town an amount equal to what should have been saved.
“It’s guaranteed,” Foster said. “They write the check.”
While the town has not awarded a contract to Ameresco, local officials have indicated the company will have an excellent chance of getting the energy-services job if Article 19 passes.
Several neighboring communities, including Reading, Lawrence, Lowell, Georgetown and Methuen, have already had work done by Ameresco, Foster said.
Because of the expected savings, he called the projected cost “budget neutral.”
“It’s a win-win situation,” said Susan Almono, chairwoman of the Sustainability Committee. “We’re going to save energy and we’re going to save money.”
“We are investing in the infrastructure of the town,” Ray Geraneo, a member of the Sustainability Committee, said.
At last year’s Town Meeting, the selectmen and School Committee supported borrowing more than $4 million to improve the energy efficiency of town-owned buildings. The Finance Committee opposed the move, insisting the town needed more information.
The voters sided with the Finance Committee. This year, both the selectmen and Finance Committee have voted unanimously to recommend passage of Article 19.
Because the article calls for bonding or borrowing money, a two-thirds vote is required to pass it.