New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community




Pooling Your Options: Buying Energy in Bulk … with Other Buildings

Ronda Kaysen in Board Operations on July 17, 2012

New York City, Garden City, Long Island

July 17, 2012

Another Cherry Valley Sunday

For all that, convincing a board that the long-term savings is worth the capital investment is not always easy. Five years ago, Cherry Valley Apartments, a co-op in Garden City, Long Island, needed to replace its boilers. But rather than heed Fairfield's advice and convert to natural gas, the board spent nearly $100,000 on new boilers. Board members were concerned about possible gas leaks and since gas prices were comparable to oil at the time, the savings didn't seem to be worth the effort.

Flash-forward five years and gas prices are substantially lower than oil, a trend that is likely to continue. So when Fairfield sent the board members a letter last year suggesting they reconsider, they had a change of heart.

"We said, 'If we made a stupid mistake five years ago, let's not stick with a stupid mistake," says Joseph Evans, treasurer of the board. Cherry Valley accepted a $100,000 bid from the energy company Hess. The bid was 10 to 15 percent lower than all the other bids because Hess has a relationship with Fairfield. If Cherry Valley had been using natural gas last year, it would have saved $150,000, obliterating its upgrade costs in a single year.

There are ways to convince reluctant board members to consider changing course, say property managers. One option: Show them the numbers. Cooper Square sends each of its buildings a detailed description of its energy usage, highlighting how much the property would save if it joined the electricity pool.  

If your board passes on an initial offer, follow up later, explaining how much comparable buildings have saved.


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