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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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Oregon City Council earlier this month authorized the mayor and finance director to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority to create a building improvement project designed to save energy and improve the environmental performance of city owned buildings.

The matter was discussed at a Drainage, Roads, Buildings, and Lands Committee meeting just before the council meeting on March 14.

Administrator Mike Beazley said the agreement “is an essential step for the city to get a better handle on the energy costs and consumption issues with our own buildings.”

“This is the first step in the process that can allow us to upgrade our infrastructure, without having to become a capital line item, ultimately with the objective of actually lowering our annual operating costs each year through that process. We discussed it for about an hour and a half this evening, and I think we’re ready to move forward,” said Beazley.

Councilman Dennis Walendzak, chairman of the Drainage, Roads, Buildings and Lands Committee, said a representative from the Port Authority informed the committee of how the energy efficiency program would work, what the city would have to do moving forward, and what the Port Authority would do in conjunction with the city.

“They gave us a lot of information,” said Walendzak. “I appreciate the questions Councilman Mike Sheehy and Councilman Jerry Peach brought forward that furthered council’s knowledge of the program and what the city’s stake may be on this.”

Walendzak said his committee had recommended that council pass the memorandum of understanding.

Councilman James Seaman said going forward with the ordinance was an opportunity for the city to save money over time.

“It’s like picking the low fruit off of the trees. It’s one of the most important things we can do to ensure a secure financial future for our citizens and for our city,” said Seaman.

Beazley said the memorandum of understanding will allow the city to partner with the Port Authority to take advantage of a $15 million grant the Port received from the Department of Energy.

“The underlying purpose of the grant is the recognition that governments, businesses and individuals - even when they have opportunities to reduce their energy consumption - don’t take those steps because of the capital costs associated with it, the complex nature of the analysis necessary to make a decision, and the challenge of financing the improvements over time,” said Beazley. “This grant doesn’t give Oregon a pot of money that drops out of the sky to make the improvements. I wish that it did. What it does is puts individuals and partnerships in place to allow governments and businesses, and ultimately residents downstream, to go out and get energy audits and detailed financial and physical plant analysis that allows them to pay for those things over a responsible period of time, and to make some decisions on how they can reduce their energy consumption. It’s the recognition that the best energy savings you can make is to use less energy to begin with, and that’s what it focuses on. It allows the city to make its own decisions downstream about what improvements we wish to engage in, and whether we choose to pay for them with cash as we go, or to finance them as part of this program, a revolving loan fund. That will depend on the extent and nature of the improvements that come recommended from the project. Just the nature of our energy billing, it’s our expectation that there’s enough energy savings out there to make this worth the time and trouble just because of the nature of the plan. We do have some worries, and there’s some risk involved in doing it, but it’s ultimately the choices we make.”

“I’m a huge proponent of energy efficiency,” said Councilman Sandy Bihn. When the municipal building was constructed, she added, “I don’t think anyone realized where we were headed in terms of use of energy and cost of energy and all the issues related to it.”

“It’s a pretty inefficient plant layout, if you will, just from the naked eye. I look forward to the results and I look forward to working with everybody,” she said.

 CommonPeople1

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