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Heat System Millions Over Budget

Montpelier's new heat system is millions of dollars over budget, but should be done this fall.
MONTPELIER, Vt. - Constructing Montpelier's new district heat system is a difficult process.

"This is an enormous new system, new boilers, new technology, on an existing foot print in downtown Montpelier, so this is a challenging project for them," says Mayor John Hollar.

The state portion of the project involves building this new, wood chip fired plant on State Street. It's almost done, and over budget by some 2.5 million dollars.

"That 2.5 million started out as 3 million because those were our original figures, but we've been able to whittle it down to the 2.5. Over half of it is due to increases in construction costs related to the mechanical and electrical portions of the building,” Department of Buildings and General Services Commissioner Michael Obuchowski said.

Now the taxpayers are left to fill the funding gap.

"We should be critical at this time, but twenty years from now people are going to look back and say they were Vermonters and knew what they were doing," Obuchowski said.

City officials say despite project overruns in terms of cost, they're still hopeful that in the long run this will be a financial positive for the city.

"It's obviously tighter now than it was, but we still think it's going to be cheaper than oil. Once the infrastructure's paid off in about 20 years, then it will be a significant benefit to the city,” Mayor Hollar said.

The mayor says a test mini-system that ran this winter for a handful of buildings was successful. He expects the full system, which will fuel a mix of state, city, and private buildings, to start running this October after the plant is complete.
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