An energy consulting company says Richland could save $250,000 a year in energy costs with a $4.7 million makeover on its buildings, street lights and heating and cooling systems.
City council members were intrigued at Tuesday's workshop by the proposal from Apollo Solutions Group of Kennewick, but are cautious about spending $51,000 to have a detailed plan worked up.
That plan, called an investment grade audit, would have Apollo prepare to submit a financing package for the city and arrange the schedule for doing the energy-saving upgrades.
Alex Banks of Apollo, who is certified in energy and environmental design, said the city would see the investment fully recovered through energy cost savings in 15 years.
"We look at everything: Your fleet, your street lights, heating, everything you write a check for. It's a holistic approach," he said.
Bob Hammond, Richland's director of energy services, recommended the program, saying it makes good sense.
Banks said Apollo will guarantee the city reaps at least $250,000 a year in savings, and that if isn't met or exceeded, Apollo will give the city a check to make up the difference.
Apollo recently completed an energy savings performance contract for Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, where Banks said the $8 million invested is cutting energy consumption by 30 percent.
But Councilman Dave Rose questioned if such a large capital investment might cut into the city's limited funds for other capital improvements in 2013.
Banks said Apollo would pursue grants for the city.
"We will leverage all available grants," he said.
Mayor John Fox said it was be a waste to spend money retrofitting city hall because it is likely to be replaced well before 15 years pass.
Fox also agreed with Rose: "We need to see a financing proposal."
The council members agreed to discuss the topic more at a future meeting.
Hammond said he would have a source in the budget for the $51,000 when he brings the topic back to council for a formal decision.
w The council heard about a proposal to build two three-story office buildings at the site of the old community center at 650 George Washington Way.
Derrick Stricker and Adam Brault envision the property being developed in three phases, including an underground parking lot where a large hole now exists, and a three-story apartment building facing Amon Park Drive.
There would be about 55,000 square feet in the two office buildings and 15,000 square feet in the 32-unit apartment complex.
Access to the underground parking would be off Amon Park Drive.
Fox said the proposal has possibilities, but the proponents still need financing.
"It's a hard project to put together," said Joe Schiessl, planning and redevelopment manager.