Monday, August 25, 2008

NHR on the performance contracting discussion

Over the past few days, I've given my version of the events and words of last Thursday's capital budget meeting. But here's the take of the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

Democratic Councilman Matt Altieri and Republican Tim White got into a heated debate about whether the town should enter into performance contracting agreements with private-sector energy companies.

The article continued...

Performance contracting is a construction method that allows a business or municipality to complete energy-saving improvements by financing them with money saved through lower anticipated utility costs. White has long advocated Cheshire using it.

"It's incumbent upon you to bring forward some examples of where this works," Altieri said to White. "What you're talking about is going to be a huge undertaking."

White responded with a thinly veiled accusation hurled at the Democratic majority on the council regarding what he has said is its unwillingness to address the performancecontracting issue.

"Either we are serious about energy savings or we're not," White said.

That brought Elizabeth Esty, a Democratic member of the Budget Committee, into the fray.

"You've been talking about performance contracting for years," Esty said. "Bring us some names of contractors, some communities that have done this. It's misleading to the public to frame this as being the only way we're serious about saving energy."

Town Manager Michael Milone also weighed in, saying White was "oversimplifying" the performance-contracting process.

"John Knott (former town attorney) told us we would still have an obligation to go to referendum for any performance contract agreement that is above $350,000," Milone said, referring to the threshold that triggers a vote on capital projects.

"The idea of having savings pay down the debt (on a performance contract) has enormous potential, but it's still viewed as debt on the books."

White, visibly upset, stormed out of the meeting a few minutes before it was over.

So a year has passed since the promise was made at the August 30, 2007 Capital Budget meeting. And since I brought up performance contracting at last Thursday's meeting... I'm still wondering when exactly they were planning on "considering" performance contracting?

Suggesting that my lack of input on "where PC works" is absurd. Suggesting a failure on my part to provide names of towns and contractors that use PC is worse than misleading.

I (and others) have provided that information over and over. The least the majority could do is be honest about it and simply say they don't want to do it for the two legitimate concerns mentioned:

1) it's a big undertaking
2) possible debt impacts

But those are hurdles, not dealbreakers. And until we put pen to paper, we won't know if the "business case" makes sense.

Finally, I emailed the above link to the Energy Commission Chairman on Saturday. I'll post the Chair's response tomorrow (he already gave me permission).

I couldn't make this stuff up.

Tim White


what they really mean said...

Altieri: "But why should we save money? We have so much of it to spend !"

Esty: "If you think I'm a wild spender in Cheshire, just wait til I get to Hartford !"

Milone: "Thank God the voters don't have the power to reject tax increases !" (Prop.3%)

Anonymous said...

Hang in there Tim. I attended the meeting regarding Mixville and almost stormed out after some of the faces made by Altieri. I'm glad you are passionate about energy and the waste that continues to take place at the town pool.

Breachway said...

It was ridiculous.