The picturesque, coastal town of Essex (pop. 3,500), home to world-famous fried clams, is located in a region with some of the highest electricity rates in the country.

Like many municipalities, Essex had been struggling to upgrade its government buildings on a tight budget. Town Hall, for example, which was built in 1893 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, needed a serious remodel to become more energy-efficient. In order to pay for the much-needed project, town leaders had resorted to auctioning off town property to raise funds.

Then Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki learned about a creative, alternative option to finance the project. By signing a four-year electricity supply contract through Constellation’s Efficiency Made Easy (or “EME”) program, the town of Essex was able to install energy-efficient lighting, controls and other measures without upfront costs. The EME program is expected to reduce the town’s electricity usage by more than 14 percent during the term of the contract.

In addition to Town Hall, the project was expanded to include upgrades to other municipal buildings such as the police and fire station, senior center, water filtration plant and public works facility.

The lighting upgrades are expected to result in the elimination of more than 130,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year, according to an analysis using data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The actual installation was complete in a matter of weeks, with minimal disruption to the town, Zubricki said. He said he also appreciated the fact that Essex was able to experience the benefits of the contract earlier than expected, due to the contract’s timing.

The town also adopted a flexible electricity procurement program to achieve its energy budget goals. Rather than purchasing all of its power needs at a single point in time, the town will make multiple purchases for various percentages of its future energy usage when market conditions are favorable.

When the town signed its bundled Efficiency Made Easy and flexible procurement agreement with Constellation, it was already locked into an electricity contract with the company for nearly two more years. However, Constellation and its partner, Newton-based ESCO, installed the energy upgrades in the first quarter of 2014, allowing Essex to enjoy about $19,000 in additional annual savings by reducing the town’s consumption during its existing agreement.

The town was also able to take advantage of state and federal rebates, which Constellation administers through the EME program.

Essex is the first town in Massachusetts to use Constellation’s Efficiency Made Easy program through the MMA’s MunEnergy program, which serves more than 120 towns and cities. Constellation has been the MMA’s endorsed energy supplier since 1998, offering municipalities the advantage of contracts that are thoroughly vetted by the MMA’s counsel.

Technology has made huge leaps in recent years, so Constellation advises energy buyers can take another look at what opportunities exist to further reduce usage – and increase savings.

Christine Creager ( is Business Development Manager for Constellation’s Northeast sales team.