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Ameresco Utility Infrastructure Upgrade Project Update
The City’s application for Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECB) to secure .47% financing for the lease/purchase of equipment needed for the City-wide utility meter upgrade project was approved by the Governor’s office in September. Even though the “B” stands for bonds, the City will be issuing a lease purchase agreement, subject to annual appropriation and secured by a lien on the equipment. The City is using savings to pay for debt service and there will be no direct impact to taxpayers.
Back in October of 2014, the City Council approved to upgrade to more efficient technology in water and electric meters, facility lighting, street lighting and the utilities billing system in a fashion that won’t cost taxpayers money. “Budget neutral” is the term used to describe the financial cost of the project. Per Local Govt. Code 302, the project has to pay for itself in cost efficiencies, or in other words, with the savings created by the more efficient equipment. The total cost of the project to the City is $3.4M ($2.8 million for financing the equipment and $675k for maintenance, measurement, and verification). Over the 15 year of the life of the program, estimated revenue and savings are $4.1 million with a net cumulative cash flow of $462k. Part of the project is to install an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system which would fully automate the meter-reading-to-billing process through a wireless mesh communication network that provides access to real time water and electricity consumption. The system would automatically read the meters which would eliminate errors and meter accessibility issues, automate the city’s billing system, and retail customers would be able to go online and check their usage. Bleyl and Associates has completed the 3rd Party review of energy savings calculations as presented by Ameresco in the Investment Grade Audit (IGA). The results confirmed Ameresco energy savings calculations.
In July 2015, a contract was signed with STW, Inc. to begin the utility billing software installation and conversion. STW, Inc. and Ameresco will develop a project schedule in the coming weeks. City-wide meter replacement will begin in January 2016 and take approximately 4-6 months. A series of public information sessions will be held to explain the project benefits, timeline, and answer any questions or concerns citizens may have.
Ameresco Investment Grade Energy Audit Results Final -http://easyedit.ci.smithville.tx.us/filemanager/files/Smithville_IGA_FINAL_6_1_15.pdf
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