WEST NEWBURY – Energy efficiencies and infrastructure upgrades dominated the agenda at the Pentucket Regional School Committee’s first meeting of the month.
After a lengthy discussion the board endorsed a plan by the town of Merrimac to enter into a performance contract with Peregrine Energy Group as a way to upgrade the town’s infrastructure and increase energy efficiencies. Merrimac officials sought buy in from the Pentucket board because the Donahue and Sweetsir Elementary schools are included in the contract.
The board also OK’d a plan to seek funds for the regional middle school under the state’s new accelerated repair program and agreed to lock in a 3-year price for the purchase of natural heating gas.
Performance contracting provides municipalities with an alternative to the traditional bid and design process, Steve Wiseman, Vice President of Peregrine Energy Group, explained to committee members during his power point presentation on Tuesday.
Instead of seeking bids on a project-by-project basis, Peregrine acts on behalf of the town to hire one contractor -- in this case, Ameresco -- to complete 66 upgrades on multiple facilities through out the town. Ameresco is an energy services company -- or ESCO -- that integrates engineering, design, purchasing, construction, and commissioning to improve project quality. A national company with a 20-year track record, its $1.02 million bid estimate was the lowest of the 8 ESOPs that applied for the job.
In 2011 Ameresco conducted an audit of Merrimac’s assets and the town then picked projects for a more detailed study. Included in the final proposal were nine projects for the town’s elementary schools -- six at Donahue and three at Sweetsir. The town authorizes the work and secures the financing, but as part of the process, the district must agree on a cost sharing approach for these specific upgrades based on the dollar value of the work and the potential savings in future energy costs.