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Olmsted County not ready for new district energy plan

By District Energy posted 05-14-2020 11:37


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Olmsted County commissioners appear ready to pull the plug on a district energy plan.

“I really don’t want to get into a district energy policy with non-government people,” County Board Chairman Matt Flynn said.

A district-energy system typically involves buried hot and cold water pipes used to heat and cool multiple buildings in a defined area.

While the city and county currently share steam energy provided by the county’s Waste-to-Energy facility, plans for a revamped system have included discussions with the Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency.

“I’m leaning to go with everyone building their own,” Flynn said during a recent meeting of the county’s three-person Administrative Committee. “It’s way less cost.”

Mat Miller, the county’s director of facilities and building operations, said estimates show building independent standalone systems would cost $10 million to $12 million for the six buildings served by the current steam system.

Building a new district system to serve the same buildings is expected to cost at least $13 million, depending on the fuel source and design.

Committee members Jim Bier and Stephanie Podulke agreed with the go-it-alone approach, citing a history of public-private efforts involving the city that have not gone as expected, including the Rochester City Council’s recent decision to delay a potential transit development using county land.

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