The meter is running on savings for the City of Bridgeport.
Work crews have finished switching every electric and water meter in the city to an automatic metering infrastructure (AMI) system, one of three capital improvements outlined by a performance agreement between the city and Siemens Industry Inc.
This improvement and the other components of the project – replacing light fixtures in the city with more energy-efficient fixtures and retrofitting the street lights throughout the city with more efficient induction units – have been completed.
The first full billing cycle on the AMI technology started May 1.
Tuesday, the council reviewed both the seventh payment request for the project in the amount of $268,369 and $132,209 final retention invoice, which will be released at the completion of the punch-list items, including a couple of warranty issues at the water plant.
In addition, the council approved a change order that resulted in a $42,466 increase to the project, now totaling $2,686,631.
“When we initially signed the contract, we utilized the data that we had on our Incode (utility) billing system that would indicate what the meter sizes were for all our electric and water meters,” said City Administrator Brandon Emmons. “Some of the meters were not listed the proper sizes; some meters were not listed at all. We didn’t know that. We supplied the information to (Siemens). They based their calculations for the project cost on the information we provided to them.
“Once they were on the ground and noticed that the meter was either larger, or in some cases, smaller or not even noted at all, they went ahead and made the changes at the time rather than stopping work, moving on and doing the change order at the end,” he continued. “Siemens charged us for the materials cost only, not the installation cost.”
Emmons said this strategy made more financial sense.
“We could’ve gone out and finished the project with the quantities that were listed and at that point purchased those meters ourselves and installed them with our crews,” Emmons said. “But that would’ve actually cost us more.”
Additional factors smoothed over the oversight.
The city pocketed about $27,000 by selling the old brass meters – revenue that was not previously accounted for. In addition, in the installation of the new meters, crews discovered a 6-inch meter that was not on the billing system.
Its addition will generate approximately $60,000, staff said.
Moreover, staff believe the city will see savings sooner than anticipated.
City officials issued $2,6444,185 in certificates of obligation on Sept. 27, 2012, to fund these projects.
“When we originally designed this project, we used a 4.5 percent interest rate over a 20-year period,” Emmons said. “When we sold the bonds, the average annual APR was actually 2.76 percent, which means that our zero cash flow for our first year turned into $3,100 positive cash flow.”
As a result, the city will see larger profits quicker than anticipated.
“The project was originally to break even in the 20th year,” Emmons said. “Actually, after year 13 we start seeing results out of this project. Based on what we confirmed during the verification process, the cost savings on the project – after it’s all said and done – based on our interest rates should be $850,000 total for a 20-year process. We’ll see $3,000 a year, $2,000 until we hit year 12 or 13 then we start seeing $40,000 to $50,0000 a year savings through those years.
“The $40,000 increase in the contract does not negate the cash flow that was projected.”