Stamford to launch state’s first massive energy-efficiency plan

By Martin B Cassidy

June 14, 2016

The city will become the first in the state to launch a large-scale energy-efficiency plan that officials estimate could save as much as $1 million a year.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy joined Mayor David Martin on Tuesday at the Government Center to announce Stamford’s three-year deal with Eversource for efficiency upgrades in city buildings.

ConEd Solutions, of Valhalla, N.Y., has been hired to implement up to $16 million in upgrades at 15 city school buildings and the Government Center. The agreement commits Stamford to reducing electricity usage by 12 percent and lower its reliance on natural gas by 6 percent by the end of 2018, with plans to cut energy use in half by 2030.

Achieving the goals would amount to powering 714 homes for a year or emitting 3,900 fewer tons of carbon dioxide, according to a press release about the deal.

“Those are very aggressive and real goals, but we as a community and nation need to become more energy efficient, and that’s the commitment we are making here,” Martin said Tuesday.

Stamford Economic Development Director Thomas Madden said the city would finance the project by issuing bonds or use tax-exempt lease purchase financing, which allows municipalities to spend money they expect to save from future operating budgets to pay off debt.

Under the agreement, Eversource will credit Stamford with the energy savings the improvements create allowing the city to use the money to pay back the loans, Madden said, minimizing the impact on taxpayers.

“This is about economic development, too. The first thing that businesses look at is the budgeting of government,” Madden said. “It is also really good for our businesses and other property owners to see what we’re doing and use other incentive programs to replicate what we’re doing.”

The improvements include energy-management controls at four schools, new LED lighting at 14 schools and an overhaul of the Government Center’s heating and cooling system. The plan would also replace more than 5,000 street lights around the city with energy-efficient LED lights.

Malloy said the goals outlined in the agreement are even more significant than the energy improvement district developed under his leadership as mayor in 2007, which allowed large property owners in the downtown, South End and Shippan to generate their own power on microgrids.

“The idea of cutting back substantially on the amount of energy required to run the city is an exciting proposition and the environmental impacts are exciting and very much in tune with what we are trying to do with the state of Connecticut,” Malloy said.

“The willingness to take on this effort and show it can be done on a big-city level is very, very important and will be a strong guide to what other governments in the state will do as well.”

The deal illustrates how Connecticut has moved to the forefront of energy upgrades in the nation, according to Tilak Subrahmanian, executive vice president of energy efficiency for Eversource.

“The importance of this deal goes beyond the traditional benefits of savings for electric and gas,” Subrahmanian said. “It is about productivity and business productivity and sustainability, both economically and environmentally.”