Town Council and Board of Finance members are considering whether Monroe should enter into a contract with Honeywell, a firm offering to make energy efficiency upgrades to its municipal and school buildings with $5.4 million worth of projects, and funding it all with CL&P rebates and future savings on utility costs.
Town Attorney John Fracassini, who has been negotiating the contract, urged town leaders to do their homework before making such a commitment and offered to share a list of other towns who have worked with Honeywell in the past.
Town Councilwoman Enid Lipeles contacted officials in Middletown and Somerset, Mass., for feedback on their dealings with Honeywell and Board of Finance Vice Chairman Michael Manjos called two more towns (Lipeles wasn't sure which ones).
During Tuesday night's Town Council meeting, Lipeles told fellow council members how she heard strong praise of Honeywell.
"Mr. Manjos had the same response," she said. "He was surprised at how laudatory people were of that company."
Lipeles asked Ken Jackson, director of facilities for Middletown, and Ginger Barrett, superintendent of water and sewers for Somerset, six questions she had prepared and she shared her notes with the council.
The following are the six questions and the replies of each official. The questions are slightly edited.
How was Honeywell to work with on installation?
Jackson: Did two major projects for us. One was 12 years ago. The other two years ago. No problems. Good coordination and planning. Lots of work was done while school was in session.
Barrett: Fabulous job — weekly information meetings on the project — project was $8 million. Couldn't have been any more responsive than they were. Unusual situation occurred during the project — one of the schools burned down. Very helpful in identifying where they could help improve during the rebuilding.
Did your town receive other bids? If so, why did you choose Honeywell?
Jackson: We sent out RFQs — put these out publicly. Touch Controls, TRANE and Honeywell responded. Honeywell was selected based on other projects they had done.
Barrett: Had four interested in the job ... came down to two — Honeywell and Johnson. Panel of 11 people reviewed projects and interviewed people. We wanted green initiatives and thinking outside the box, solar heating for the pool for example. They were the most responsive.
Did your town attempt to do any conservation efforts of its own?
Jackson: Always ongoing. I have done conservation measures with CL&P, lighting companies. Once we agreed to the concept, Honeywell did all the work. The first project was $3 million. The second was $5 million.
Barrett: Allowed Honeywell to do everything.
Did your town carry the project as normal debt?
Jackson: We went into a 15 year lease agreement.
Barrett: GO bonds (government obligation bonds). Pay back over 20 years.
Has the town realized actual cash savings equal or close to projections by Honeywell?
Jackson: First project and first two years of the latest one, they exceeded utility savings. They tend to estimate on the conservative side.
Barrett: Exceeded savings by 17%.
Would your town recommend Honeywell?
Jackson: Definitely recommend them. Overall, a very good experience. They do not walk away after a project is done. Only a phone call away.
Barrett: Yes, no question. Great to work with, very flexible.