By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Last Tuesday night, the Finance Committee voted unanimously to support the appropriation of $4,049,000 for energy-saving measures in town-owned buildings.
The committee did not, however, endorse having the work done by Ameresco, a Framingham energy services company, two members of the Finance Committee pointed out. A Jan. 9 article reported the work would be done by Ameresco.
Both Alan LeBovidge, the former state revenue commissioner who chairs the Finance Committee, and Matthew Remis, a member of the panel, said the town should seek competitive bids from energy services firms before awarding a contract.
“The Finance Committee voted to support the energy project based on a report submitted by Ameresco. The committee did not vote that the work would be done by Ameresco. I would hope that, if the citizens of the town vote to go forward with this initiative, that the town would issue a request for proposal and that the lowest cost, qualified vendor is selected. This may or may not be Ameresco,” LeBovidge said.
“By no means does our vote endorse Ameresco in any capacity. Rather it simply suggests that an ESCO (energy services company)-type project could make sense for our town if negotiated properly and understood fully by the selectmen and town manager. I still believe we have a ways to go before we reach that level of understanding or comfort with this deal,” Remis said.
LeBovidge noted “the Finance Committee has to vote on this issue without the benefit of seeing a final contract or financing package because that’s the way the capital budgeting process in towns works.”
Like Remis, LeBovidge said Town Manager Andrew Maylor and the selectmen are responsible for making sure North Andover gets a proper deal with whatever company it hires to perform energy-saving measures.
“It is up to the selectpersons and town manager to review the final proposals and to ensure that the town is adequately protected and getting a fair deal,” he said.
Maylor advocates making energy-saving measures at town-owned buildings, noting that such improvements will save the town money. Last year, Maylor, the selectmen and the School Committee backed a Town Meeting article that called for borrowing $4.3 million to pay for an energy-conservation project.
The Finance Committee opposed the article and voters at the June 12 Town Meeting rejected it.
Ameresco has already performed an energy audit for the town.