Following a one-hour discussion, the Camp Verde Town Council approved a contract with Wendel Energy Services to perform an investment-grade audit of the town’s buildings, parks and wastewater treatment facilities.
The goal of the audit, according to Town Manager Russ Martin, is to “head in a greener direction and also save some money.” Wendel, a New York-based energy consulting firm, will determine the potential for energy conservation projects. It will also provide outlines of expected costs and probable payback schedules associated with said projects.
The cost of the contract is up to $55,000 — an amount that may be rolled into projects once selected.
Martin said that, after three years of trying to determine what projects would save the city the most money while also reducing reliance on fossil fuels, he had to admit that the town lacked the resources and expertise to plot a course.
“The plan has always been to have a comprehensive plan for our facilities,” Martin told the council. “[But] to be honest with you, with the staff we have no one can take this project on.”
In November, Martin put out a qualifications statement, hoping to attract consultants. Six companies responded, including two top candidates: Wendel and Phoenix-based building technology company Climatec. Martin interviewed representatives from both organizations, providing an “inclusive” list of priorities.
“I said, ‘Give us an idea what could be better for these buildings,’” Martin said.
Martin admitted that the $0 price tag of Climatec’s consultation looked good on paper, but the company’s contract stipulated that consultation would need to result in a project with Climatec — a company that does projects in house, without the benefit of a competitive bidding process to drive down the cost.
“You know there’s no free lunch,” Martin said, adding that Wendel deserved the town’s endorsement due to the up-front cost of its comprehensive, facility-by-facility evaluation and the guarantees associated with an investment-grade audit.
According to Martin, an investment-grade audit will ensure that projects must come close to the original quote.
Councilman Buck Buchanan said that this kind of audit would be vastly superior to the typical energy audit provided by companies like Climatec. “A little bit of money up front will do us a lot of good .... I’m all for this.”
“It’s a very comprehensive review,” Martin said. “My guess is that you’re going to spend a lot more than this, going forward .... That $55,000 is almost certainly going to roll into a six-figure project.”
Councilwoman Jackie Baker disagreed on the need for the contract, saying, “What are we really going to save on these buildings? I would just rather spend whatever on solar out at the sewer department and hope it cuts down the cost.”
“The idea behind this is that it wouldn’t just be intuition,” Martin countered. “I just want the information.”
Mayor Charlie German agreed with Martin: “The info we could glean from this is good .... [And it] still leaves us in the driver’s seat.”
The contract was approved by a 5-1 vote, with Baker dissenting. Councilwoman Robin Whatley was absent from the meeting.