Representatives from Trane attended the August work session of the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen to update the city on its energy savings program that makes budget neutral to net positive upgrades to lighting, water usage and HVAC units.
Trane’s presentation was the second step in the planning process, one that would pave the way for a third party audit to come in and confirm Trane’s savings estimates and likely find some additional ones, but when the Vice Mayor Mark Messick brought up the Duck River Electric program that’s replacing streetlights in the city, Trane’s presentation ran out of track.
Trane first started the discussion in 2019, but because of pandemic-related snags, is just now returning to the full board.
Trane representative Randy Mauldin explained that the program offers upgrades to the buildings, gives the city energy savings and doesn’t cost the taxpayers anything.
Mauldin said that while much work is left to do, there is an opportunity for building improvements without costing anything out of the budget.
“If we come in and say we can save you $250,000 per year and save you $240,000 per year, Trane writes you check for the difference,” Mauldin said. “Here’s the best part, your savings are any amount over that.”
While Trane’s state-level team leader Owen Nevader explained that the third party vendor’s services include GIS mapping of each streetlight in the city, Messick interrupted.
“The streetlights are off the table,” said Messick, who sits on the Street Committee. “I don’t want to mess up your presentation, but…”
“Duck River is not going to let you put lights on their polls,” Messick speculated. Several buildings have also had LED lighting upgrades.
The Trane people then decided it best to go back and reassess their estimate and return at a later meeting.
If the city decides to proceed, the next step is to bring in an investment-grade auditing firm to go through the city buildings and make recommendations for energy upgrades. This would be the initial financial investment (cost) for the city. The $75,059 cost would go into the program if the city proceeds with Trane. The city would be responsible for those costs only if it took the recommendations and decided to implement the improvements on its own. If the third party finds that Trane cannot save the city enough money to be worthwhile, Trane would cover those costs.
The streetlight project makes up a large portion of the $3.4 million in planned improvements and is a large cut of the $230,000 in annual savings.
“We cannot afford to have one upset client. The City of Manchester would not be the first,” Mauldin said.
Coffee County Schools, Manchester City Schools, Coffee County Government and Tullahoma City have participated in successful Trane programs.