Town pursues energy savings plan to replace boiler

By LISA CAPOBIANCO

STAFF WRITER

Town officials hope to pursue an energy savings program to replace the boiler at the Middle School of Plainville while installing LED lighting throughout town and school buildings.

During a recent meeting, the Town Council unanimously approved to enter into a letter of agreement with PTE Energy of Plainville for the Eversource Energy Opportunities Program—provided that an additional appropriation of $580,000 from the unassigned fund balance is approved.

A public hearing on the additional appropriation will take place on Monday, Oct. 2, 7p.m. during the monthly Town Council meeting.

The School Facilities Department has been working with PTE Energy on possible incentive monies to replace MSP’s boiler and to install LED lighting at Plainville High School and Linden Street School, as well as the fire house, library, municipal center, the police station and the senior center.

Lee said the boiler has exceeded its useful life, and although it is still operating, some leaks developed that need to be repaired. The replacement of the boiler has been included in the Board of Education’s capital improvement plan for several years now.

“It is uncertain how long the boiler can last after these repairs have been made,” said Lee.

The project has an estimated total cost of $1,078,152. Under the Eversource program, however, an incentive of $389,011 would be available to the town if the boiler replacement happens by Dec. 31. There also would be a payback period of 8.2 years.

Lee said the incentives will not be available in 2018.

“If these improvements are made, the annual energy savings would be $83,578,” said Lee.

After sharing four options with the council regarding the proposal, Lee recommended a $580,000 additional appropriation to be made from the town’s unassigned fund balance, which would reduce the operating budget for next fiscal year by $56,000.

“It’s a win-win situation all the way around,” said Lee, adding that the town is in a good financial position to pursue the incentive. “There are uncertainties with regards to where the state budget is going, but the incentives aren’t going to be around next year.”

Lee said this option would replace the boiler before this winter while taking advantage of the incentive and lowering expenses in next fiscal year’s budget.

If the council decides to do nothing, Plainville would lose the opportunity to reduce its energy costs, and the boiler could break down in future years, resulting in an “emergency appropriation,” said Lee.

“The problem isn’t going to go away. The question is do we do something now, and avoid the emergency situation or roll the dice,” said Lee. “There are certainly some good reasons for moving forward at this time.”

Director of Facilities Steve Busel told the council it would be ideal to replace the 25-year-old boiler before the next heating season. Busel estimated a two-week time frame for the installation of the new boiler.

“Time is of the essence right now,” said Busel. “A well-planned project like this would save money in the short run and long run.”