Plan would let energy companies make state buildings more efficient | NevadaAppeal.com

Plan would let energy companies make state buildings more efficient

by Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

Assemblyman Jason Geddes, R-Reno, told the Assembly Government Affairs Committee Tuesday AB398 would allow private business to do extensive energy retrofit projects for the state at no direct cost to government.

Geddes, environmental affairs manager for the University of Nevada, Reno, said the basic idea is to let a private company do the energy-saving work on a building and then collect its pay for the task from the amount of money the retrofit saves the state.

“They guarantee the performance,” he said. “They guarantee the payback.”

He said creative companies can save building operating costs up to 15 or 20 percent.

“With those savings, you would pay back that retrofit,” he said. “This is a way for us to upgrade all state agencies.”

He said AB398 is designed to allow a wide variety of upgrades from energy and water use to waste disposal.

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But Assemblyman Wendell Williams, D-North Las Vegas, said he was uncomfortable allowing agencies and local governments to go with whomever they want to pick instead of the lowest bidder.

Geddes said if the state is locked in to the lowest bid, it could greatly reduce the creativity that might cost more up front but save more in the future.

“I think if we go straight to the low bid, we’re going to lose a lot of the gains we’re going to get,” Geddes said. “What we’re going to see is a series of light bulb replacements, window tinting and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) upgrades.”

He said both the state and local governments using the program created by AB398 should be free to look at the best value proposal, not just the cheapest.

He was supported by Deputy Purchasing Division Administrator Greg Smith, who said people in his department also were skeptical.

“But we have been sensitized to the very unique nature of this type of project,” Smith said. “You would miss out on a whole plethora of energy ideas you just won’t get to with a low-bid process.”

The committee took no action on the bill.

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