Overwhelming approval for Siemens contract at Camden’s drive-in special town meeting

Mon, 01/25/2021 - 10:15pm

    CAMDEN — The temperature was 27 degrees F, snow guns were blasting at the top of Ragged Mountain, and in the parking lot of the Camden Snow Bowl, approximately 120 vehicles had gathered, occupants ready to cast their votes in a special town meeting, a one-of-a-kind town meeting held during a pandemic and whose outcome was supportive of the state’s own Climate Council recommendations.

    Town staff worked overtime to make the town meeting happen: Camden firefighters lit the parking lot with strong emergency lighting, Camden Opera House Manager Dave Morrison lead the citizens through the five-article warrant, Town Manager Audra Caler, plus select board members, responded to questions explaining their reasoning for proposing the warrant, and Camden municipal employees braved the two hours of frigid winter night weather to count votes and extend courtesy microphones into car windows so that citizens could speak their minds.

    At issue was the proposal to engage with Siemens for a $2.3 million, 17-year performance guarantee contract to bring energy efficiencies for municipal buildings and operations, including Snow Bowl snowmaking and heat pump installations.

    The meeting began at 6 p.m., with a procession of cars arriving at the Snow Bowl, parking in an orderly fashion, thanks to Rotary volunteers, who normally help crowds park during the annual toboggan nationals, but in this case, stepped forward to help for a different cause.

    Voting 131 to 34, residents approved Article 2, to, “authorize the Town Manager to execute a Performance Contracting Agreement with Siemens Industry, Inc. with certain Performance Guarantees, to upgrade multiple public buildings, increase energy efficiency, and reduce long term energy demands and costs.”

    Articles 3 and 4, concerning how to finance the contract, were approved in an “overwhelming show,” said Moderator Dave Morrison.

    And, Article 5, a nonbinding approval of Camden’s support of Maine Climate Council's recommendations ended with a vote of 104 to 2.


    The Warrant

    The Town of Camden will be holding a Special Town Meeting on Monday, January 25th, 2021, to vote on several energy efficiency improvements/upgrades to several town buildings. 

    Voters will be asked to vote on the following:

    1 - To elect a Moderator for the Special Town Meeting.

    2- To authorize the Town Manager to execute a Performance Contracting Agreement with Siemens Industry, Inc. with certain Performance Guarantees, to upgrade multiple public buildings, increase energy efficiency, and reduce long term energy demands and costs.

    3- In the event the Performance Contracting Agreement is approved, authorizing the Town Manager to execute a Financing Agreement/Loan with Siemens Industry, Inc. in a total not to exceed $2,335,193, as amortized over a 17 year-period and with an annual interest rate not to exceed 2.1%, to fund the energy efficiency work and improvements described in the Performance Contracting Agreement.

    4 - To fund the up-front initial costs of the Performance Contracting Agreement by drawing and paying to Siemens Industry, Inc., at the appropriate time, the sum of Two Hundred Thousand Dollars ($200,000) from the Unassigned Fund Balance.  This equates to 4% of Camden existing Unassigned Fund Balance.

    5-  ADVISORY ONLY: That the Town of Camden recognizes the diverse challenges facing the region as a result of climate change as well as the ambitious emissions reduction goals set by the State of Maine and now signed into law.  LD 1679 established the Maine Climate Council and charged it with developing a plan to significantly reduce Maine's greenhouse gas emissions.  This report is now complete and the Town of Camden is committed to working with State government and other partners to implement the recommendations laid out.  Beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Town of Camden also supports the Maine Climate Council's recommendation to focus on several other key goals as outlined in the report:

    • Create economic opportunity as we undertake climate and energy transitions.
    • Prepare our communities, people, and economy for the impacts of climate change like rising sea levels, increased flooding, and changing weather conditions.
    • To advance equity as we undertake this work, to ensure communities and citizens who are often left behind can benefit from climate solutions by having access to opportunities and protection from threats.

    The building energy efficiency upgrades including the following:
     Camden Opera House

    • Lighting Retrofit
    • Basement Moisture Membrane
    • Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostats
    • O2 Prime
    • Roof Replacement

    Camden Public Library

    • Lighting Retrofit
    • Building Envelope - Air Sealing
    • Attic Insulation Improvements
    • Building Automation System Upgrade & Energy Savings Control Strategies
    • Boiler Replacement & Fuel Switch
    • Oil Tank Removal & New Propane Tank
    • O2 Prime

    Camden Public Safety Building

    • Lighting Retrofit
    • New Heat Pumps

    Camden Public Works

    • Lighting Retrofit
    • Building Envelop - Air Sealing
    • New Office Heat Pump

    Camden Snow Bowl

    • Lighting Retrofit - Lodge
    • Lighting Retrofit - Existing Trail
    • Lighting - Parking Lot
    • Building Envelope - Air Sealing
    • Front Window Replacement
    • Geothermal Heating & Cooling System 

    Camden Wastewater

    • Lighting Retrofit - Garage 

    The total investment for these improvements is $2,335,193, which is proposed to be financed through a 17 year loan at a 2.043% interest rate.  The upgrades will create $1,071,618 in guaranteed energy and operational savings over the 17 year term of the loan.  The average cost of the annual debt service on this loan will be $103,065 after the average annual guaranteed energy and operational savings of $63,036 is subtracted.  

    For more detailed information on the cash flow for this project please click here.

    For more detailed information on the details of the building improvements and energy upgrades this project entails, please click here.

    For the warrant article language, please click here.

    For instructions on how to participate in this Special Town Meeting and map of the parking area, please click here.

    Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at lyndaclancy@penbaypilot.com