Photo by Mason Callejas

City Council heard a presentation Tuesday from a private company that claims to be able to help lower utility and maintenance costs by leasing machinery and heavy equipment to the city.

Rick Gibson with Sustainability Partners spoke to council and those in attendance during the work session, calling his organization “the cloud utility.”

“Without using debt, we’re a way for you to pay for what you use more,” Gibson said.

Sustainability Partners offers lease-like service agreements for heavy equipment such as LED lighting, HVAC and irrigation.

The best part, Gibson said, “you only use what you pay for.”

They calculate kilowatt-hour usage and other operating costs to determine the extent of usage and based on that then determine a monthly cost for the equipment.

The agreements are month-to-month with an option to buy out or cancel whenever their customers wish.

To buy out the equipment, Gibson said, a price is calculated that shrinks each year based on usage. After 10 years, customers are given the option to buy out for $1, he added.

Customers are also not bound to the agreement. All have a chance to cancel with a 30-day notice.

Mayor Christian Price suggested to “turn them [Sustainability Partners] loose” on city-owned property to determine if there is something the company can do. Price said he knows there are certain elements within the city’s infrastructure that will soon need to be replaced and this might be a viable option.

Councilmember Henry Wade didn’t disagree with Price, but he reminded council that the city would have to go through the bidding process before any decision could be made.”

“We would have to make sure the playing field is level,” Wade said.

To that, Price said, “We don’t know what we don’t know,” and that by advising the City Manager to look at creating a Request for Proposal so that “it moves the process forward in discovery.”

Council advised city staff to move forward with an RFP and additionally provide council with more information that would help them understand some of the more intricate details of a service like Sustainability Partners.