Recap: On 11.5.13, city officials in Whitewater met privately with three construction or engineering vendors (Trane, Black & Veatch, Donohue) and at least one major waste-hauler to discuss importing waste from other cities into Whitewater for a digester energy project. On 12.3.13, Whitewater’s Wastewater Superintendent Reel and City Manager Clapper presented a brief slideshow about the project, and revealed the prior meeting. On 1.21.14, Trane and Black & Veatch presented to Whitewater’s Common Council on the project. On 2.4.14, the City of Whitewater, at the enthusiastic recommendation of Reel and Clapper, agreed to fund Trane’s ‘study’ on the feasibility of the project, in an amount up to $150,000.
(We’ve also skipped ahead in the story, to a presentation from Clapper and Reel from 3.16.15 at the Whitewater School Board, to see how they’ve crafted a sales presentation – one of several – to major institutions and groups in the city. Later, we’ll be able to examine how their more recent presentation claims match their prior statements, prior engineering statements, and independent analyses of digester projects like this.)
(Every question in this series has a unique number, assigned chronologically based on when it was asked. All the questions from When Green Turns Brown can be found in the Question Bin. Today’s questions begin with No. 108.)
For today, this post looks at Trane’s presentation – from some of the same representatives who spoke to Council about the digester project – on a separate, supposed energy-savings project for Whitewater. It’s useful as a look at Trane’s work, but just as much into the thinking and diligence of Whitewater’s municipal administration.
108. Whitewater selected Trane for this energy-efficiency project (here, making several Whitewater municipal buildings supposedly more energy-efficient, for example). Who else applied? Why Trane? (Ten years earlier Whitewater used Honeywell.)
109. Like Trane’s work on the digester, this energy-efficiency project would be under a single-vendor performance-contract (rather than a separate designer and contractor approach sent to bid that would be common for most construction projects). Why choose this method over a traditional one?
110. Trane claims there would be $2,219,055 in savings to the city over fifteen years. How much have we, now in 2015, saved based on this estimate?
111. Obvious question: if we’ve not saved a fractional amount equal consistent with Trane’s calculations, then why is that? (It’s an obvious question, but the answer’s not been published anywhere, to my knowledge.)
112. The total project cost is about $1,900,000. Even after a ninety-day review from Trane, Trane’s final numbers are not available at this meeting. Why, then, present tonight? That is, why the urgency?
113. These are projects for the municipal building, library, armory, Cravath, Starin Park, and city garage. How critical are any of them?
114. Both Trane and city officials contend that these projects are urgent because of the weather. Are they really?
115. A city leader contends that inadequate air conditioning for the city administration in the municipal building is an urgent matter. Is it? How many workers in Whitewater have no air conditioning at any time? How many residents in Whitewater have no air conditioning at any time?
116. At about 34:00 into the clip of the meeting, several city officials or Council members laugh at the idea of not have improved air conditioning at the municipal building. Does it seem equally absurd to them that many ordinary residents live and work without air conditioning?
117. Trane contends that the entire project could be executed in 2014. Was it?
118. City Manager Clapper does not state the amount in the city capital budget that could be used for the scope of project cost, but Rachel of Trane knows it from memory. Why does the vendor know the municipal budget figure but the city’s own manager does not?
Original Common Council Discussion, 2.20.14
WHEN GREEN TURNS BROWN: Mondays @ 10 AM, here on FREE WHITEWATER.