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January 31, 2012 | last updated February 1, 2012 11:38 am

CES to analyze state's energy expenses

Portland-based Competitive Energy Services has won an $118,050 state contract to serve as energy consultants to the state. The company will help state officials manage heating and energy costs for state buildings and facilities, according to a press release. One of the company's partners dismisses a potential conflict with a proposed gas project in central Maine managed by other partners.

The company previously held the state contract but lost it for the last two years to a Texas-based firm, says Managing Partner Jon Sorenson. In this year's competitive bid process, Competitive Energy Services scored 90.57 out of 100 in three categories: experience, procurement and cost, besting nine other companies.

Sorenson says the company will analyze the state's energy expenses at a number of large buildings, including the Maine State House, the Blaine House, the Maine State Museum and the headquarters of various state agencies. The company will perform an assessment and help the state identify ways to save money. The company will also provide the state with market condition information and develop an energy procurement strategy. Sorenson said the market has improved since the state last negotiated energy prices, meaning the state could now secure lower prices. Competitive Energy Services will also track usage and cost on an ongoing basis. "We'll be part of a team to…help understand what those costs are and reduce them," he says.

Two of Competitive Energy Services' managing partners, Richard Silkman and Mark Isaacson, are principals in Kennebec Valley Gas Co., which is proposing a 56-mile natural gas pipeline from Richmond to Madison. The project received a conditional approval from the Maine Public Utilities Commission in August, but must still get final approval once its financing and engineering plans have been finalized.

Sorenson says there's no conflict of interest "whatsoever" because those partners won't be involved with the state contract. Sorenson will lead the state work, and he has no stake in Kennebec Valley Gas, he says. In the company's press release announcing the state contract, it includes in its description of its work "natural gas pipeline development and negotiations."

Alan Henry, director of special projects in the Bureau of General Services, wrote in an email that "We are aware of the possible conflict regarding a natural gas proposal in central Maine and are monitoring the situation closely."

Competitive Energy Services provides energy management and procurement services for municipalities and public institutions, including schools and medical centers, throughout the Northeastern United States and Atlantic Canada. It also serves private businesses in the same region, as well as New Jersey and California, Sorenson says. The company recently won a similar contract for the city of Portland.

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