Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

City to move ahead with $1.2M energy savings plan

Ameresco says Tarpon Springs can save $91,000 a year by doing things like switching to high-efficiency light bulbs and upgrading the air-conditioning systems in city buildings.

Ameresco says Tarpon Springs can save $91,000 a year by doing things like switching to high-efficiency light bulbs and upgrading the air-conditioning systems in city buildings.

TARPON SPRINGS — Commissioners confirmed this week the city should move ahead with a $1.2 million energy savings plan designed to cut Tarpon Springs' energy bills.

Commissioners approved the project in March but briefly revived the discussion Tuesday to address what would happen in the off chance energy company Ameresco goes out of business.

Tarpon Springs hired Ameresco to investigate 14 city buildings — from the library to City Hall — for ways to save energy. The company identified dozens of opportunities to save, including switching to high-efficiency light bulbs and upgrading the air-conditioning systems.

The project's $1.2 million price tag is equal to nearly a year's worth of city utility bills, but the eventual savings would be substantial: about $91,000 per year, according to estimates.

That's the environmental equivalent of planting 144 acres of trees or powering 81 homes, Ameresco said.

If the savings fell short, Ameresco would write Tarpon Springs a check for the difference.

That's the promise that raised eyebrows for former Commissioner Chris Alahouzos.

"If the company goes out of business, how would we get our money?" he asked.

Tracey Gallentine, an Ameresco account executive, tried Tuesday to provide the answer.

No company can guarantee its own survival, she said, but Ameresco is a financially sound company with annual revenues of $630 million and a construction project backlog of $1.5 billion.

"The city has done the math," Gallentine said in a phone interview. "They're going to see a savings from the measures they've installed."

Clearwater, Tampa, New Port Richey and the Pinellas County school district have embarked on similar projects in recent years under a Florida program to encourage energy savings. Ameresco is on a list of about a dozen companies vetted by the state.

Alahouzos also questioned the city's decision not to request bids on the project.

Just because Ameresco won the bid for the energy audit doesn't necessarily mean it can offer the best price on installing the changes, he said. Anyway, he added, couldn't some of the work, such as changing light bulbs, be done by city staff?

"I'm in favor of saving energy, but my problem is with this process," Alahouzos said.

City Manager Mark LeCouris said there are good reasons for choosing Ameresco.

Tarpon Springs would owe the company $30,000 for the audit if the city went elsewhere for the energy upgrades, according to the contract. Also, another company might not pay the difference if energy savings are not achieved.

"The cities and the states set it up this way because this is the easiest, fastest, best way to do it," LeCouris said. "To me, this is a no-brainer."

Contact Brittany Alana Davis at or (850) 323-0353. To write a letter to the editor, visit

City to move ahead with $1.2M energy savings plan 04/19/13 [Last modified: Friday, April 19, 2013 6:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida education news: Student discipline, online learning, solar eclipse glasses and more


    STUDENT DISCIPLINE: Everyone wants their child to behave in school. But sometimes defining what that means causes dissention. That was the case this week at a Pasco County elementary school, which A Pasco County elementary school has adopted a new behavior model that encourages cooperation and responsibility. Some parents are upset that it also seems to support giving in to peer pressure.

  2. Pinellas wants to see impact of tourism bucks spent on big events

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– Pinellas County relies on more than just beaches to attract visitors. County government also spends millions to help sponsor big-name events to draw even more tourists.

    The Pinellas County Tourist Development Council awareded up to $250,000 to help sponsor the 2018 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Zephyrhills begins residential lien forgiveness program

    Local Government

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A new program is under way to forgive liens on certain residential properties in the city to combat blight, encourage improvements to properties and spur home ownership.

    City Manager Steve Spina said after the council’s unanimous vote, the new lien forgiveness program is up and running.
  4. With reluctance, New Port Richey continues funding for Main Street program

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — City officials on Tuesday night had their annual debate on whether to continue funding the New Port Richey Main Street program. The group remains financially strapped and claims it cannot survive without city funding.

    Said New Port Richey Mayor Rob Marlowe: “I think the Main Street program has gone seriously off the rails.”
  5. Spanish police kill 5 in resort hours after Barcelona attack (w/video)


    BARCELONA, Spain — Police on Friday shot and killed five people wearing fake bomb belts who staged a car attack in a seaside resort in Spain's Catalonia region hours after a van plowed into pedestrians on a busy Barcelona promenade, killing at least 13 people and injuring over 100 others.

    A woman places a postcard of the Barcelona's Sacred Family cathedral next to bunches of flowers in Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Police on Friday shot and killed five people carrying bomb belts who were connected to the Barcelona van attack, as the manhunt intensified for the perpetrators of Europe's latest rampage claimed by the Islamic State group. [Associated Press]