MARTINEZ -- Martinez leaders seek ways to cut the city's annual $1 million gas and electricity bill by increasing energy efficiency.
The council is considering engaging Chevron Energy Solutions Company, a division of the oil giant, to identify upgrades or improvements to the city's buildings, infrastructure and facilities that would conserve energy. Projects could include solar panels at the water treatment plant, LED streetlights and energy efficient heating and cooling systems. The company also would calculate the savings for each project. The fee for this energy assessment is $55,000.
The City Council last week delayed the vote on an agreement with Chevron Energy Solutions until the company submits additional information about potential savings.
Funding for the projects -- which likely would cost several million dollars -- could come from a mix of loans, state grants and incentives and rebate programs. Martinez would repay any loans over a defined period with the money it saves on energy costs.
If the council agrees to sign an energy services contract with Chevron to design, build and implement the conservation projects, the $55,000 fee would come from the above sources, and not from the city's general fund. If the council decides not to work with the company, Martinez will be on the hook for the entire fee. If Chevron doesn't identify "significant" energy savings, the city won't have to pay.
City leaders haven't decided yet how much savings they want to see before they'll commit to the broader contract, said Michael Chandler, senior management analyst for Martinez.
"If we're guaranteed to get new infrastructure and to actually pay less on utilities and on debt service than we are now, that's a good outcome," Chandler said.
Chevron is offering the city additional perks free of charge. The company is working with police Chief Gary Peterson to develop a pilot public safety project that would include installing LED lighting and security cameras in a park or in the downtown area. Additionally, Martinez students would be eligible to participate in a paid internship program teaching them how to conduct energy audits for homes and small businesses.
Mayor Rob Schroder and council members Lara DeLaney and Mark Ross were ready to approve the agreement for the energy assessment last week, but council members Mike Menesini and Anamarie Avila Farias objected. Menesini criticized Chevron's presentation at the council meeting for being confusing and light on details. He also questioned the fact that the proposal had been discussed in a subcommittee in late February, but was just coming before the full council.
Farias raised concerns about the lack of a competitive bid process. The city is working with Chevron largely because Schroder was intrigued by a demonstration he saw in Concord and referred the company to city staff.
"Why are we dealing with Chevron exclusively? We didn't survey who was out there to provide this service," Farias said.
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.