Work has begun in Montpelier on a project to expand the heating system used by state government buildings to serve public and private buildings in the downtown.
It’s part of a $20 million project that will expand the wood-fired heating system. It will be run jointly by the city and the state.
William Fraser, Montpelier’s City Manager says the first part of the project involves disconnecting an old water line over 90 years old, and reconnecting the services to another line.
“There’s a newer larger line also in the street so we’re simply going to discontinue the water line, convert the buildings that are being served off that old line to the new line. Then we’re going to be laying the district heat lines in the trench where the old line was,” Fraser explains.
The project has two separate pieces, controlled by separate entities. The city is responsible for the upgrades to the distribution system, and that’s what starting now. The state is working on a related project to upgrade the heating system plant. Both projects are using the same federal grant, and the city’s system will connect to the plant. Fraser says the City’s project is within budget. The state’s project did have some overruns, and but it’s still moving forward.
The project will serve commercial and public buildings, not private residences.
“We have sufficient customers to pay our annual carrying costs of the project which includes our bonding and operating costs of running the system. That includes private buildings as well as the federal buildings, the post office, the county court house and sheriff’s office, the Union Elementary School, police station and City Hall,” Fraser said.
The project is funded by the users of the heat, much like the water and sewer systems.
“There’s a misconception because the city floated the bond, people assume their taxes are paying for it, that’s not true. In fact, there are some costs that are currently tax-funded in the city budget that are being transferred to the District Heat and will be reducing their taxes, not increasing them, at least for those services,” Fraser said.
There have been some traffic tie ups related to the project. The city has a communication plan in place to keep the public and business owners up to date on the work. The project is set up in two-week segments to minimize the disruptions.
The city’s portion of the project is on track to be completed by the September, with a goal to provide heat by October 1st.