Haverhill and Methuen have hired an energy manager to help both cities save money on electricity and move toward using alternate power sources such as solar.
Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said Orlando Pacheco will work two days in Methuen and three days in Haverhill, where he will also serve as the city’s chief procurement officer. Pacheco’s $85,000 annual salary is being split three ways — Haverhill is paying $21,000, Methuen is paying $14,000 and the state is picking up $50,000 through an energy grant.
The energy partnership is the second such venture between Haverhill and Methuen. The neighboring communities also recently received a state grant to hire and share a program director, Pedro Soto, to oversee efforts to combat abandoned and neglected buildings in both cities.
David Van Dam, Fiorentini’s aide, said the state appears to look favorably on communities that collaborate to apply for competitive grants.
Fiorentini said Pacheco will oversee several energy initiates, including making public buildings and schools more energy efficient, installing a solar farm at the former city landfill on Old Groveland Road that is in the process of being capped, and evaluating whether the city could save money by buying its street lights from National Grid to reduce the cost of electricity.
“We can and should be doing a lot more with energy efficiency and solar power,” Fiorentini said, noting the city already has a small solar farm on Hilldale Avenue and that there are solar panels on the roof of the Citizens Center. “I want us to be known as the solar city.”
Pacheco was previously town administrator in Lancaster for 10 years. He was a mayoral aide in Amesbury before that.
Haverhill also hired Pacheco to replace city purchasing chief Robert DeFusco, who retired earlier this month. In Haverhill, Pacheco will split his time between purchasing and energy, the mayor said.
“Orlando Pacheco is recognized statewide as a leader in the field of municipal energy,” the mayor said. “In Haverhill, our energy bills run in the millions of dollars. Filling this position of energy manager and combining it with the purchasing office will allow us to take yet another step to make government more efficient. Our taxpayers want the best use of their tax dollars and this is another step in that direction.”
Fiorentini said he had some concerns about splitting Pacheco’s time among three positions and two cities, but said he’s a hard and dedicated worker.
“Last Friday he was at City Hall at 5:30 in the afternoon when everyone else was gone, and he’s always emailing me on the weekend, so I think he’s capable,” the mayor said. “But we’ll monitor it and see how it goes.”
Pacheco has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of New Hampshire.
“Mr. Pacheco pioneered the use of solar power to lower his town’s energy bills,” Fiorentini said. “Mr. Pacheco has been chosen to speak at a national conference on municipal energy and was the co-author of a guide book on using solar power on municipal landfills. He has been the author of municipal articles on the use of solar energy and has been asked to speak numerous times before municipal groups on the best ways to lower municipal utility bills. Under his leadership, the town of Lancaster has generated so much money using solar power that they have no municipal electric bill at all on city buildings.”
DeFusco was among three key Haverhill department heads who retired or resigned in the last month.
Mary Carrington, the city’s human resources director, resigned in June and Charles Benevento, Haverhill’s long-time finance director and auditor, took a job in Amesbury earlier this month.
The mayor said he is interviewing applicants for the vacant human resources and finance director positions this week, and that he hopes to fill both positions by Labor Day.
Fiorentini said the city is using a temporary worker to help out in the human resources department and that the city’s financial consultant is helping out in the finance office.