Town Could Save Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars on Energy Costs

Honeywell proposes projects to make town and education buildings more energy efficient.

New windows at Fawn Hollow and Stepney elementary schools, a new roof at a Monroe firehouse and switching town hall to natural gas are just a few of the energy saving measures being proposed by Honeywell, which says it would do the work for town and education buildings with funds from future savings — at no cost to taxpayers.

Honeywell representatives believe the town can save hundreds of thousands of dollars on its energy bills and Town Attorney Jack Fracassini is working out the details of an energy performance savings contract between the company and the town.

It will need approval from the Board of Finance and the Town Council. Though the Board of Education is not entering into a contract itself, board members voted to support the scope of the work at their last meeting.

Supt. James Agostine said one of the conditions the school district wanted was a program that would include a positive cash flow, allowing the Board of Education to lower its energy budget.

"This is a guaranteed funding program," Agostine told the school board. "In other words, if we do not achieve the savings that Honeywell is projecting here, they're on the hook for paying the difference to the financial institutions that loaned the money."

The Board of Education appointed Honeywell as its energy savings company in May and its representatives have been working with town and district officials on an energy audit identifying the needs of Monroe Public Schools and the town. Last week, Connecticut Light & Power Co. officials toured Monroe's municipal buildings and schools.

PCBs were found in the caulking of some windows at Stepney, prompting a lengthy process with the EPA. Because of thsi, Honeywell wants to break the project up into two phases, with the windows done in Phase Two.

Company representatives hope to have all town approvals secured by the end of October and to execute a performance contract for Phase One by November or December.

Board of Education Secretary Mark Hughes, who was acting chairman in Darrell Trump's absence last week, told fellow board members that a vote was not necessary that night because they would meet again this month. But Lee Crouch wanted to decide that night, so the Board of Finance would have more time to get it on its agenda.

First Selectman Steve Vavrek wants the school board of approve of the scope of the work before the town bodies take action.

Lee's motion sparked debate, because some board members wanted to take more time to digest the information provided by Honeywell. Mark Antinozzi said it seemed "premature" not to wait until the town attorney is finished working on a contract.

"I still say that hasty pudding makes mistakes," Antinozzi said.

Donna Lane agreed.

Crouch motioned to approve of the concept for Phase One. "I'm comfortable with what we heard tonight and in May," she said.

The motion passed 4 to 3 with Crouch, Dr. Alan Vaglivello, George King and Kelly Plunkett in favor and Hughes, Antinozzi and Lane against.

Phase One

The cost estimate for Phase One is $5.4 million with an annual savings of about $510,000 a year. There would be a utility rebate from CL&P of around $612,000, according to Honeywell.

This does not count a "comprehensive bonus" the company is hoping to realize if CL&P has significant funds near the end of its fiscal year. That would amount to another $200,000 to $300,000, according to a company representative. There is also a state program that could lower the interest rate on the loan for the project.

Rather than waiting for EPA approvals for windows at Stepney and Fawn Hollow, Honeywell decided to move the windows to Phase Two, so the town would be eligible for rebates and the "comprehensive bonus" by starting sooner with the first phase.

Phase One includes:

  • A fuel switch to natural gas for Masuk High School
  • Replacing the two old boilers at Stepney Elementary School
  • An upgrade to the swimming pool cover at Masuk High School, saving money on heating the pool.
  • A solar thermal system to heat hot water at Masuk.
  • Replacing a roof badly in need of replacement at a Monroe firehouse
  • A fuel switch to natural gas at Monroe Town Hall
  • Replacing the old chiller at town hall
  • Completely overhauling the HVAC system for the Monroe Animal Control building.
  • Replacing an old swimming pump at the Wolfe Park pool building

With the Windows

Honeywell said Phase Two, with the windows at the elementary schools, would be about $7.2 million with an estimated $536,000 in annual energy savings.

The CL&P rebate would still be about $612,000

"The story here is, even with the full window replacements in both buildings, it's still a positive cash flow of close to $100,000 a year," a Honeywell representative told the school board. "It's likely to be greater when we tap into the state program to lower the financing."

QWERTY October 09, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Why are major town buildings not already on natural gas? Is the town's infrastructure really this bad?
Vera Karger October 09, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Curious: In what sections or on what streets of Monroe are gas lines already available?
QWERTY October 10, 2012 at 02:10 AM
I would actually love to know this information also. Does a map exist anywhere?
Alex October 25, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Pastors Walk has natural gas, I can vouch for that. Best thing ever, especially when the power is out :)
Nicholas Littlejohn December 17, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Should totally tune up Chalk Hill and Sandy Hook!


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