2014-03-07 / In the News

Long-awaited energy project approved

Natural gas-powered facility to produce energy needs for town hall
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Last month the Town Council approved final funding to install a tri-generation facility next to town hall to take care of the building’s heating, cooling and electricity needs. The facility, which would run on natural gas, would also generate enough electricity for the town to sell to the school district at a reduced rate to help power the nearby high school. (Michael Kelley photo) Last month the Town Council approved final funding to install a tri-generation facility next to town hall to take care of the building’s heating, cooling and electricity needs. The facility, which would run on natural gas, would also generate enough electricity for the town to sell to the school district at a reduced rate to help power the nearby high school. (Michael Kelley photo) An initiative underway right now could result in long-term benefits for both Scarborough’s municipal and school operations.

On Wednesday, Feb. 19, the Town Council approved using $65,972 from the 2009 Sawyer Road Capital Improvement Project account and $91,213 from the Public Safety Reserve Account to fund a natural-gas powered tri-generation facility next to Town Hall that would provide the building’s heating, cooling and electricity needs.

The $873,585 project is also being funded through a $216,400 grant from Efficiency Maine and $500,000 from the fiscal 2014 capital improvement projects budget.

Energy committee member Judy Roy, a former town councilor, said the return on investment for the project is less than four years.

“There are a lot of ways to reduce our carbon footprint on this planet,” Roy said. “Scarborough is making great strides by incorporating this tri-gen model.”

The goal, Roy said, is to save energy costs while providing a revenue stream for future energy efficiencies and initiatives. The facility was listed as a priority in Scarborough’s 2009 comprehensive energy plan. Roy said the town has been looking to start the program since 2006.

Town Manager Tom Hall said if the facility produces more electricity than needed, the extra electricity could be sold to the school district at a reduced rate to help power buildings on the school campus, namely Scarborough High School.

Chris Caiazzo, chairman of the Board of Education’s finance committee, said tri-generation is a “great model” because of the condensed nature of Scarborough’s municipal and school campus.

Town Council Vice Chairmen Jessica Holbrook said the life expectancy of the facility is 30 years.

“To have cleaner, more efficient energy is a great thing for the community,” Holbrook said.

Bill Donovan, a member of the Town Council, called the introduction of trigeneration in Scarborough a “wonderful advancement for our community in becoming a model for cleaner fuels.”

The final funding for the trigeneration facility was not the only energy efficient item supported by the council last week.

The group approved a measure that would outfit the roofs of the North Scarborough Fire Station and the Community Services maintenance building — by the ice rink — with solar paneling. Those buildings were targeted, Hall said, because of their electricity usage and orientation of their roofs.

The town would buy the power generated by the panels through Scarborough Solar LLC, at a reduced rate. Scarborough Solar will own, operate and maintain the solar paneling.

The town, which is not putting any money upfront for the installation, would be able to purchase the paneling after the six-year agreement with Scarborough Solar is completed.

The program is done through a partnership with ReVision Energy, a Maine-based solar energy company.

Town Councilor Ed Blaise said the idea to look to solar energy was born out of the employee incentive program, which was established last year as a way to find cost savings for the town or better delivery of services in Scarborough.

“I am glad to hear this is a product from one of our employees,” Holbrook said. “That is what we are looking for in finding cost-saving ideas.”

Donovan, the council liaison to the town’s energy committee, said the committee is conducting an audit of other municipal buildings to improve efficiency, and will see if a similar solar paneling effort could work on other buildings.

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