Recorder News Staff

Siemens Industry continues to vie for an energy performance contract with Amsterdam, with representatives pitching the company as a solid long-term partner invested in enhancing the city.

John Purcell/Recorder staff
Shadrach Treat, of the Building Technologies Division of Siemens, talks to Amsterdam officials Tuesday about the company’s proposal for an energy performance contract with the city.

Siemens representatives made another presentation last week to the Common Council about the company’s proposal for an energy performance contract with the city. Siemens’ initial pitch to aldermen was about 11 months ago, which was followed by several other companies vying for a contract. Siemens’ proposal includes an estimated $2.8 million facilities improvement plan for Amsterdam to become more energy efficient.

“The reason that I wanted to bring a Siemens team to Amsterdam was because of community needs that you all certainly have, as many municipalities do,” Bill Teator, business consultant for Siemens, said Sept. 5. “In upstate New York and certainly in the city of Amsterdam there are major needs for an aging infrastructure and facilities, but there are also challenges with financing those.”

In October, Siemens presented aldermen with a proposed energy performance contract, which included an estimated $2.8 million of facility improvements across multiple city-owned buildings. Amsterdam is estimated to net approximately $522,000 over the 15-year contract after the initial implementation of the proposed project was paid.

A key aspect of Siemens’ presentation Tuesday was about what the company could do for the community.

“We’re big believers in being partners with our communities,” Teator said. “We try to partner and introduce skill sets into the school systems to help prepare the next generation to be able to serve on some of the jobs not only Siemens provides, but others in the community need.”

Dana Rasmussen, general manager for the northeast zone of Siemens’ energy performance contracts, said the company’s approach to economic and workforce development takes advantage of its programs to develop trade skills within a community while spurring economic development.

Rasmussen said Siemens often uses its local project as an avenue to offer programming and outreach to the community.

“We tend to use our programs as a living laboratory for high school age kids to develop an understanding of energy and energy management,” Rasmussen said. “Then we’ll bring that into a skills development component to the community as a way to leverage the program to get people skilled on different types of functions.”

Shadrach Treat, of the Building Technologies Division of Siemens, said the company has completed about $162 million worth of energy performance contracts with municipalities across New York.

“We’ve been doing it for a long time, we’re not going anywhere and that’s why we think we’re a valuable partner to the city,” Treat said.

Amsterdam issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) from companies for an energy performance contract, but a decision has not been made to date.

Mayor Michael Villa said Wednesday he would not commit to any proposal until the city’s finances are brought up to date.

“Financially, we have to see where we are before we invest any more funds,” he said. “I want to see where we are first before we take that step.”

An energy performance contract allows local governments to become energy efficient with improvements to equipment and infrastructure through a tax-exempt municipal lease, which would not affect the city’s debt limit. The funding mechanism typically allows improvements to be paid over time, with energy savings financing the cost of new equipment and other capital improvements.

State law requires proposed savings to be guaranteed through an energy performance contract, so whatever company is selected will be required to compensate the city annually for any shortfall in savings.

In November 2016, about a month after Siemens’ initial proposal, SmartWatt Energy presented aldermen with its pitch for an energy performance contract with the city.

In February, Johnson Controls representatives presented an energy performance contract proposal to aldermen, which included $2.5 million to $4 million worth of facility improvements across several city-owned buildings, depending on what local officials wanted to pursue.

Albany-based Abbott Energy, Inc. is the latest company vying for a contract with Amsterdam to assist the city with purchasing streets lights from National Grid and upgrading lights to LEDs. Abbott Energy’s proposal, however, was less encompassing than an energy performance contract.

Abbott Energy representatives proposed a project with an overall cost of about $4.4 million to purchase and upgrade street lights throughout Amsterdam, which the company estimated would yield the city a $9 million savings over 25 years.

Recently adopted state legislation requires utility companies to sell street lights to municipalities if sought by local officials.

It’s unclear how the other three companies’ proposals would be affected if the city contracted with Abbott Energy for the street lighting aspect.

Siemens identified the purchase and replacement of streetlights as the measure yielding the greatest return on investment within its facilities improvement plan. Representatives said high yielding measures help pay for aspects yielding lower energy savings, such as Wastewater Treatment Plant improvements and boiler replacements.