The Maple Grove City Council approved a $7.1 million contract with Apex Facility Solutions Performance at its Monday, April 20, meeting. This contract will create an agreement for energy efficiency improvements, onsite solar at the public works facility and water treatment plant and solar garden subscription.
The council also received an update from Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director Tim Bush on the city’s COVID-19 response.
Last October the City Council authorized staff to enter into a contract with Apex Facility Solutions for a detailed study of opportunities to bring energy efficiency improvements, solar energy installations and other maintenance items to areas around the city.
City Planner Manager Peter Vickerman said the council was asked to execute a Guaranteed Energy Savings Agreement.
Part of the agreement would bring energy efficiency improvements to buildings in the city. This includes lighting upgrades to city buildings, sealing building leaks and repairing weather stripping for doors and windows, and other miscellaneous energy efficiency improvements. These costs total $2.23 million.
Another part of the agreement would upgrade city-maintained, non-LED streetlights to LED lights and replace old steel light poles. There were two options for the council to choose from. The first, the maximum street light and pole replacement, would be $1.59 million for most of the lights. The second, for the limited street light and pole replacement, would be $1.06 million for a more limited scope of work.
There would also be solar energy installations and subscriptions as part of the agreement. This would add solar energy installations to city buildings (public works and water treatment plant) and include an additional solar garden subscription. This would cost $1.36 million.
Vickerman also mentioned four deferred maintenance items that were part of the agreement. He said the items did not provide much energy savings but were identified as critical issues by staff and could be funded through the process. These items include: ballfield lighting upgrades at Maple Grove Middle School Park, HVAC and control upgrades at the sports dome, replacing a portion of the community center roof, and modifying the air intake at the Law Enforcement Training Center. These costs total $1.97 million.
The total costs for all the parts of the agreement are $7.14 million (with the max street lighting option) or $6.61 million (with the limited street light option). Vickerman said the first-year savings would be estimated to be between $365,592 (max option) to $340,664 (limited option). The simple payback would be at 19.5 years (max) and 19.4 years (limited). Staff predicts the start of a positive cash flow by 2025.
Funding for these projects mentioned in the agreement would come from the city’s existing replacement fund accounts and financing the remaining costs with an internal loan from the water and sewer funds.
Councilor Karen Jaeger asked why the deferred maintenance projects were not brought up before. Vickerman said this agreement would accelerate the replacements and would be ways to saving energy and money.
Jaeger said she didn’t feel right about spending $7.1 million at a time with the economy the way it is and people are without their jobs and unable to pay their bills.
“I’m just very upset about this,” she said. “It’s a good thing to do, but at this time, I think it’s the wrong time. I’d like to see this put off for at least a year.”
Vickerman said last year the city signed a letter of intent to lock in rates and tax credits for the agreement project pieces.
Jaeger also asked if the solar panels would be purchased from the United States, but was told the panels would most likely come from a European country or China.
Councilor Judy Hanson said she was first interested in the limited street light option, but has changed her mind.
“But when you put those totals at the end and you look at the simple payback, it almost looks like there is a very minimal difference with the max street lighting option as opposed to the limited one when you get to the 19.5 and 19.4 years,” she said. “At some point, we are going to need to do all those other lights.”
Mayor Mark Steffenson said, “The deferred maintenance items are all things that we’re going to have to pay for and do anyway.” He added he preferred the max street light proposal.
Councilors Hanson, Phil Leith and Kristy Barnett agreed. Barnett added, “This is not something we as a council, or our staff including our public works director and our parks director, have taken lightly. This, I believe, is our third time we have discussed this.”
Jaeger said, “There is no reason we can’t get [solar] panels from the United States of America instead of going to another country. Also, I still say it’s a lot of money at this time and there is no reason why it couldn’t be put off for another year. I don’t like to be pushed into something and some of this is a push.”
The council approved 4-1 to execute the Guaranteed Energy Savings Agreements with Apex Facility Solutions subject to the review and approval of the city attorney. Councilor Jaeger voted against.
Chief Bush provided the council with an update on the city’s response to COVID-19. He said the city is 24 days into Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order.
With this order, the peak of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota is predicted to be in middle June.
He also mentioned there would be a homemade cloth mask drive Saturday, April 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This drive is a “Make Masks Minnesota” initiative from Walz. Masks can be dropped off at any Maple Grove Fire Station.
Mayor Steffenson thanked all the city employees for their hard work during this time. “It does seem to be working,” he added.
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