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How One MA Town Curbed Its Energy Usage By 14 Percent

3 min read

Essex is a picturesque town located on the lovely north shore of Massachusetts. With over 3,500 residents, the town is known for two things: Its world-famous fried clams and being located in a region with some of the highest electricity rates in the Lower 48 states.

Constellation Essex-2Like many municipalities, Essex had been struggling to upgrade essential government buildings while balancing a tight budget. For example, the town hall, which was built in 1893 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, needed a serious remodel to become more energy-efficient. In order to pay for the much-needed project, town administrator Brendhan Zubricki had turned to auctioning off town property to raise funds.

Then, he learned about a creative, alternative option to finance this project.

By participating in a 48-month electricity supply contract through Constellation’s Efficiency Made Easy (or “EME”) program, the town of Essex was able to implement energy-efficient lighting, controls and other measures with no upfront costs, ultimately expected to reduce the town’s electricity usage by more than 14 percent during the term of the contract.

The project was expanded to include upgrades beyond Essex’s town hall to other municipal buildings such as the police and fire station, senior center, water filtration plant and public works facility.

Essex Senior Center

“The advantage of this program is that it allows any entity to implement upgrades instantaneously without the upfront commitment, shifting the costs from capital expenses to operating budgets,” said Christine Creager, Constellation’s Northeast Business Development Manager. “Those funds are then freed up for other projects.”

The town also adopted a flexible electricity procurement program to achieve its energy budget goals. Rather than purchasing all of its power needs at a single point in time, the town will make multiple purchases for various percentages of its future energy usage when market conditions are favorable.

The lighting upgrade, installed by Lenox, Massachusetts contractor ESCO, is expected to result in energy savings equivalent to the elimination of more than 130,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year, according to EPA data.

The actual installation was complete in a matter of weeks with minimal disruption to the town, Zubricki said. He also appreciated the fact that Essex was able to experience the benefits of the contract earlier than expected,due to the contract’s timing.

When the Town of Essex signed with Constellation, they were already locked into an electricity contract for nearly two more years. Signing a bundled Efficiency Made Easy and Flexible Procurement Agreement that had already been installed for a December 2015 start date allows the town to have nearly two additional years of expected reduction of its energy usage at the current contracted rate, which adds up to about $19,000 in additional savings.

The town was also able to take advantage of state and federal rebates, which Constellation administers through our EME program.

Essex is the first town in Massachusetts to use Constellation’s Efficiency Made Easy program through the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s MunEnergy program, a collaboration between Constellation and more than 120 towns and cities. Constellation has been the MMA’s endorsed energy supplier since 1998, offering municipalities that advantage of contracts thoroughly vetted by MMA’s counsel.

Creager also noted many municipalities think that if they have completed an energy audit in the past, then they’ve already done all they can to reduce their energy usage in the future. However, there’s often an untapped potential for savings.

“Even if they [a municipality] have done an audit, they likely haven’t addressed all the identified energy conservation measures,” said Creager. “Usually a retrofit will address things that will have the quickest payback first. Because technology has made such huge leaps in recent years, we’re seeing savvy energy buyers take another look at what opportunities exist to further reduce usage – and therefore increase their savings.”

To learn more about how your business or municipality can take advantage of energy upgrades with little or no upfront costs, contact Constellation today.

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