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Dickinson to consider proposal

Everyone knows energy efficiency is important, but the trick is finding the right balance to be cost effective as well. During this Tuesday's Dickinson City Commission meeting, commissioners are hearing and considering a proposal from the Energy ...

Everyone knows energy efficiency is important, but the trick is finding the right balance to be cost effective as well.

During this Tuesday's Dickinson City Commission meeting, commissioners are hearing and considering a proposal from the Energy Services Group.

The city contracted with ESG to do an energy savings study of city buildings, but the commissioners have not yet accepted the findings.

"The way it works is you invest in infrastructure to improve the energy efficiency, and the savings on the energy on gas and electric will pay the payments," City Administrator Greg Sund said.

Sund said the study shows energy savings in terms of years of pay back of the various components. The total pay back for the project cannot be longer than 15 years.

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"If there are components of this that have a more than 15-year pay back, you can use the ones that have less than a 15-year pay back to balance them a little bit," Sund said.

Almost half of the proposed projects have a pay back of less than 15 years; however, one project is as high as 47.8 years.

"It becomes an easy decision to do everything that has the 15 or less," Sund said. "It's harder to roll things in there that have more. However, at the same time, you don't want to do only the things that have less than a 15-year pay back because you in a sense leave money on the table."

He said by balancing the projects, it allows the city to do maintenance items that needed to be completed anyway. One example is the boiler in the Armory, which has the 47-year payback.

The boiler is original to the building, which was built in 1969. Sund said boilers have a lifespan of about 20-25 years.

"Even though it's not an energy efficient pay back, it is a maintenance item we need to be doing," Sund said. "If we went out and just replaced it, their estimate is it would cost us $125,000."

Instead, Sund said ESG proposed the city pay a $75,000 fee upfront and the company would roll the boiler replacement into the project.

"It gets more complicated is what it does," Sund said.

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Sund said if the proposal is accepted on Tuesday, the city gets a lease agreement and the savings make the lease payments.

"It may cost you a little money upfront, but over the period of 15 years, it nets out," Sund said.

Sund said the infrastructure replacements and maintenance work would not require actual construction on any buildings.

Sund said ESG has already conducted and implemented this study in town at other entities, including the Dickinson Public School District, Dickinson State University and TMI Systems Design Corp.

"There isn't a lot of guesswork in this," Sund said. "They actually do the data collection."

Sund said the city met with ESG a week ago to further hammer out some details.

The commission hears and considers for approval the ESG study at 5:45 p.m. during Tuesday's meeting.

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