Massachusetts City Set To Save $100 Million Through Energy Improvements

Credit: Worcester Energy

The Massachusetts city Worcester, located about 50 miles west of Boston, signed a $26.6 million energy savings performance contract with Honeywell International in 2011 for extensive energy conservation and renewable energy measures across 92 city-owned buildings. Now those measures are on track to be completed, and the city anticipates saving more than $100 million over a 20-year span.

Worcester’s ESPC with Honeywell covers a series of phases with updates to the city’s infrastructure and municipal facilities, including heating and cooling systems, water conservation, and energy management systems, a press release about the improvements noted. This type of contract enables significant energy-efficient upgrades without an up-front capital investment, according to the city.

Most of the original energy conservation measures outlined in the contract were completed in 2015. Projects included converting heating systems in municipal buildings from oil to natural gas, adding insulation and weather sealing, as well as upgrading heating and cooling systems. Several schools received new boilers, and 36 high-energy-use schools had their energy management control systems upgraded or installed. City Hall’s boiler was replaced and a new chiller was also installed.

Last summer, in a separate project, Worcester began replacing more than 14,000 streetlights to LED light fixtures. The new lights consume about half the energy of the existing high-pressure sodium and metal halide luminaire streetlights, primarily installed in the mid-1980s and early ’90s, the Worcester Telegram reported.

Yesterday city officials flipped a ceremonial switch on the 8.1 MWdc Greenwood Street Solar Array, a 25-acre site on a capped landfill with 28,600 solar panels. Worcester anticipates the array will save $60 million over its expected 30-year lifespan. Currently the largest municipally owned solar array in New England, the $27 million Greenwood project should pay for itself in six years, according to the city.

Prior to signing the ESPC, Worcester hired Honeywell to conduct an energy audit of its facilities. After that, specific energy conservation measures were chosen based on their cost, expected ROI, and how badly they were needed. Then the city established a baseline to be able to measure the actual cost savings over 20 years. More than a dozen sub-vendors, many from local companies, have been working on the ESPC projects.

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