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District Energy Project Background

For a number of years, the City of Montpelier and the State of Vermont have investigated district heating as an option for downtown Montpelier.  Most of the buildings in the Montpelier Capitol Complex are currently heated by a district energy system, which transmits steam through pipes to the state buildings from the central boilers, located in the plant behind the Department of Motor Vehicles on State Street.

This approach replaces the need for individual, building-based boilers, furnaces, and cooling systems. In a district energy system, underground pipelines from the source of energy to each of the connected buildings distribute thermal energy - in the form of hot water, steam or chilled water. Energy is then extracted at the buildings and the water is brought back to the energy source, through return pipes, to be heated or cooled again. 

Interest in district heating for the Montpelier community has been propelled by the desire to provide:
  • a reliable and affordable heating solution for City buildings;
  • an additional economic development tool for Montpelier's downtown;
  • the security and economic benefits of increasing reliance on locally-harvested wood rather than fossil fuels;
  • and the environmental benefits of a professionally-managed central heating plant.
In 2009, the City of Montpelier contracted with Veolia Energy to complete a feasibility study for creating a district energy system in the city.  In September of 2009, the City, State of Vermont, and Veolia submitted a grant application to the U.S. Department of Energy for funding the implementation of the plant.  In January of 2010, we were awarded a grant of $8 million to construct the District Energy Plant as a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) facility, and to establish an energy district that enables residents throughout the community to make efficiency and renewable energy improvements to their buildings.  On August 5, 2010, the City issued an RFP for the design, permitting, and construction of the plant. Responses are due September 22, 2010.

On September 2, 2010, a Technical Amendment and Time Extension was issued to the RFP. This amendment clarified some questions, added some requirements and extended the due date for responses to October 20, 2010 3:00 PM Eastern Time.

The due date for responses to the RFP has passed. Responses were received from DEW Construction Corporation, The MacMillin Company, Inc. and Pizzagalli Construction Corporation. All three respondents provided proposals responsive to the ‘base bid’ specification. Two respondents availed themselves of the additional opportunity to provide alternatives proposals.

On November 15, 16 and 17, the bidders made ‘orientation presentations’ on their proposals to the review team and members of the community who choose to attend the presentations. The purpose of these presentations was to provide a general orientation to the bidder’s submittal so that reviewers had an understanding of the approach of the bidding team and what interoperations they may have made in responding to the RFP.  The presentations were recorded and are available for viewing at http://www.montpelier-vt.org/page/383/Meeting-Video-Archive.html; scroll tothe bottom of the page for 'Other Recorded Events'.

The review team is made up of two members of the Montpelier Energy Advisory Committee (Ken Jones and Justin McCabe), a committee established by the Montpelier City Council to advise the Council on energy matters within the city, two representatives from the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Boulder Colorado (Phil Voss and Scott Huffman), a representative from the State of Vermont/Buildings and General Services Division (Bob Rae), a representative from the Biomass Energy Resource Center (BERC), a representative from the City of Montpelier’s Department of Public Works, a representative from the City of Montpelier’s Finance Department, Gwen Hallsmith the City’s Director of Planning and Community Development, Harold Garabedian, Project Manager and Richard Saudek, Legal Counsel.

Following the orientation presentations, the review team will review and deliberate on the proposals. The bidders will then be invited back for formal ‘interviews’, and a recommendation is anticipated to be made to Montpelier City Council at the end of December/first part of January, 2011. This would allow the City Council to deliberate on the recommendation through the month of January. A decision on a ballot item would need to reached by the end of January to for an item to be on the March Town Meeting Day (March 1, 2011) ballot, -- a minimum thirty day notice needs to be provided.

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