Energy conservation

SHOW LOW — It sounds like the start of a joke: How many light bulbs are in the City of Show Low municipal offices, buildings and facilities?

Actually, it’s the start of an effort to save energy and money.

Schneider Electric was hired to figure out last October how many light bulbs the city uses and what would it cost to replace every fluorescent lamp, light, bulb and fixture during something called an investment grade audit or “IGA.” The comprehensive audit identified over 1,700 lights, citywide.

The results of the audit were provided to the city staff and the council. On August 20, the council approved a $712,575 energy services contract with Schneider Electric Buildings Americas, Inc.

The 1,700-plus lights will be upgraded to high-efficiency LED fixtures. The work encompasses interior and exterior lighting upgrades in 15 buildings and parks. The contract authorizes Schneider Electric to “perform guaranteed energy conservation measures” that will, over the course of 15 years, save the city over $900,000. Additionally, there could be a potential operations and maintenance savings of over $634,000 during the same 15-year period.

The actual installation of the new lighting will be performed by a local contractor, however, Schneider Electric will be the general contractor overseeing the project to completion.

The scope of the energy savings project includes changing interior/exterior lighting to LEDs (a light-emitting diode) at the following locations: Show Low Airport and Fire Station, Aquatic Center, some city campus buildings, city hall, several city parks including restrooms, Little League buildings, tennis courts, storage rooms, closets, lobbies, Show Low Public Library, Show Low Public Works buildings, the senior center, the Butler Building, the wastewater buildings and the water treatment buildings.

The project also includes the installation and programming of building automation system (BAS) software by Schneider Electric. The BAS system will provide city staff with remote control, scheduling and monitoring of city heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment for “optimal comfort and efficiency,” according to the project plan.

Project financing

After review of the contract terms, the city agreed to finance the project through a competitive loan offered through Zions Bancorporation at an interest rate of 3.02 percent over 15 years. Administrative services director Justin Johnson and Bill Kopp explained to the council how the financing would be accomplished through a lease purchase agreement with Zions Bancorporation.

One of the concerns raised by Vice Mayor Mike Allsop involved the 15 year duration of the contract. Allsop voted against the agreement with Schneider because, “it would take 15 years to see the combined savings of over $1.5 million.”

In response, Kopp assured the council that the savings would be “guaranteed by Schneider Electric” and “if at any time the city didn’t meet the projected savings, then Schneider would write the city a check.”

The project is described as “self-funding” because the energy savings alone are expected to pay for the infrastructure modernizations at the 11 to 12 year mark. There may also be a lifecycle savings over $2.1 million.

Brandon Woodward of Schneider Electric was on hand to answer questions and addressed Allsop’s concern about the rate of return taking 15 years. Woodward indicated that the city could receive daily, weekly, monthly and/or yearly updates on savings.

Johnson confirmed that the financial agreement with Zions Bancorporation included no penalty for prepayment or early payoff of the loan. He added that, although there were several bids for the project, the city chose to go with the second lowest bidder specifically because the lowest bidder “was restrictive with prepayment and penalty for early payment.”

The work should begin within one to two months and is expected to be completed in early 2020.

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Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government, business and education.

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