Very often we are programmed to automatically be skeptical of anything that seems too good to be true. More often than not our instincts prove correct, but what happens when we are wrong? Could we have let a great deal go by? As a person we may or may not contemplate these consequences. If you are an elected official with responsibilities to others, you must.

What if I told you that you could replace the lighting, mechanical equipment, HVAC, etc., in buildings for no additional operating or capital cost to your yearly budget? Any funds you had already put away for the replacement of this equipment would be released for other capital expenses not involved in the project or to lessen the yearly expense necessary. Also, what if the state of Connecticut was giving a 1 percent discount on the interest rate due to this being an energy-savings project for the town of Westport?

This is what performance contracting is. Stamford, Danbury, Woodbridge and others have embraced this program and have saved millions of dollars in energy costs and performed capital replacements without using capital funding. Saving energy is good for the environment and replacing aging infrastructure systems is good for the school and town facilities, thus capital budgets for no more than the current average cost of energy they were paying yearly.

The project involves financing over 13 to 15 years. Any capital item covered by the project will be replaced and paid for by the energy savings yielded over the current energy costs. If the base cost of energy goes up you pay more, as you would have with the old equipment installed anyway (much more with old equipment). If the cost of energy goes down, you pay less. Audits by independent third parties verify the actual savings. If you web search energy saving performance contracts you can find out more.

Currently, the town of Westport is considering such an endeavor. The Board of Finance is considering whether to proceed with the program. As a citizen you are entitled to your opinion. If you want the town to be greener and to save capital dollars or not, then you should be heard. One usually does not go to the BOF to save money. I do not see why they would say “no” to saving town funds, and streamlining capital projects at the same time.

John Rotondo