AUGUSTA — The city has told a company that proposes to use the sun and wood to help heat and power some city and school buildings to come back with a watered-down project.

City councilors voted Thursday to table the proposal until they do.

The Revolution Energy proposal called for solar photovoltaic panels at Augusta City Center and Buker Community Center to provide electricity, solar hot air wall panels at Cony High School and Buker Community Center to provide heat, a wood chip boiler system at Cony High School for heat and a wood pellet boiler at Buker Community Center for heat.

However, city officials have asked Revolution to come back with a scaled-down proposal for the wood pellet boiler at Buker Community Center. The company proposed a 500 kilowatt low steam pellet boiler system capable of heating the entire building, and eliminating two conventional boilers at Buker now.

Ralph St. Pierre, assistant city manager and finance director, recommends the city, instead, have a smaller wood pellet boiler system installed, and keep one conventional boiler in place.

Doing so, he said, would allow the city to maintain diversity in its fuel sources.

It would also allow the city in the future, St. Pierre said, to convert to a partial natural gas heating system at Buker should a proposed Kennebec Valley Natural Gas pipeline, and distribution lines off it, come through the city. The city could then use both wood and natural gas to heat the building.

St. Pierre said the Buker site is more likely to have access to the proposed natural gas system than the other city and school locations, because of its relative proximity to a potential distribution line.

City Manager William Bridgeo said St. Pierre and Bob LaBreck, facilities and systems manager, “are in ongoing discussions with the folks from Revolution Energy.”

He said a new proposal could come as soon as next month.

St. Pierre said all of the new energy systems could save an estimated $4.3 million over 25 years when compared to the estimated cost of relying on oil, although that estimate included the full boiler proposal at Buker.

In October, city councilors authorized a $52,000 contract with Revolution Energy to study the feasibility of installing the alternative energy systems. Under the proposal, the energy systems would remain owned by Revolution Energy even though they would be installed at the city and school buildings.

The city and schools could enter 15-year agreements with the company, promising to buy back all the energy the systems provide at a per kilowatt or British thermal unit price agreed upon in the contract.

If the city agrees to a long-term contract to purchase the energy that’s produced, then the $52,000 cost would be wrapped into the energy purchase contract, according to City Manager William Bridgeo.

City councilors are considering the proposals for the city-owned City Center and Buker Community Center.

The Board of Education would have to approve the proposals for a wood chip boiler and solar hot air systems at Cony High School.

Karla Miller, business manager for Augusta schools, said Wednesday school and city officials had met with representatives of Revolution Energy to discuss the schools’ participation in the proposal by having wood boiler and solar systems installed at the Cony High School/Capital Area Technical Center campus.

However Miller said Revolution had not yet broken out the potential savings at the school sites, specifically. She said once those numbers are separated from the savings tied to city buildings, the proposal would be discussed by the Board of Education Finance Committee, likely at their Jan. 9 meeting.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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