Report suggests South Portland spend $1.6M on energy improvements

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SOUTH PORTLAND — An energy auditor has submitted a preliminary report suggesting nearly $1.6 million in upgrades to city buildings and mechanical systems. 

Councilor Tom Blake said representatives from Siemens Industry delivered their preliminary findings last week. City Manager Jim Gailey said the company is still drafting a final report for formal public presentation to the City Council.

The council is expected to discuss the report at its Jan. 10 workshop, Assistant City Manager Erik Carson said.

Blake said the city isn’t likely to proceed with all the projects proposed by Siemens. If the council decides to move forward with all the work, he said, the city could save more than $2.4 million over the next 15 years.

“It’s a good investment,” he said, noting the recommendations would also lead to a smaller carbon footprint for the city.

Siemens also recently completed an energy audit for South Portland’s school buildings.

In May, the School Board approved nearly $1.5 million in energy-efficient upgrades to school buildings, including new lights, boilers and plumbing fixtures.

Maintenance and Facilities Director Scott McKernan said the changes began in July and were completed in early November.

McKernan said the district is expected to save at least $138,000 a year as a result of the upgrades made to all school buildings, expect the high school.

Since the district has a performance-based contract with Siemens, those savings are guaranteed over the next 12 years. 

“If we don’t get those savings … we get a check written out to us,” McKernan said.

He said the district is expected to save the most from upgraded lighting, projected to save about $38,000 a year.

Weather stripping and caulking is expected to save $18,000 a year, while upgraded steam traps for heating units at Skillin Elementary and Mahoney and Memorial middle schools is projected to save $17,000 a year.

Also, the heating system at Memorial Middle School has been changed from oil to natural gas.

“That is going to be tremendous,” McKernan said. “Memorial was extremely inefficient.”

McKernan said new software will allow officials to remotely turn off desktop computers through the district.

Gailey said city staff is currently reviewing the preliminary findings about city buildings in an effort to refine the scope of recommended upgrades to be presented to the council.

Blake said it will be up to the council to decide which projects to include in a potential contract, including whether to install a wind generator at Wainwright Farms and $28,000 for a pool cover.

The council must also decide on a funding mechanism, he said.

“They came in with a whole package of items they recommended,” Blake said. “The city manager had four or five he wasn’t too keen on, and councilors may want to pull one or two out.”

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net

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