Rochester Could Build Downtown Heating and Cooling Plant
Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - 35 years after the City of Rochester shut down its downtown steam system, the City Council is being asked to consider launching a similar endeavor to heat and cool government buildings and private properties in portions of downtown Rochester.
The agenda for Monday's City Council study session includes a presentation of several options for providing heat and air conditioning at the public facilities currently serviced by a soon-to-be decommissioned steam line from the Olmsted County Waste-to-Energy Facility. Those facilities include City Hall, the Public Library, and the Mayo Civic Center complex. The steam line is nearing the end of its lifespan and the city has been told the cost to replace it would be prohibitive.
The option calls for replacing the current system with steam heat and cooling equipment for each building at a cost of $6.3 million. The second option calls for installing hot water heat with electric air conditioning in each facility, which carries an estimated price tag of $6.6 million. The first two options would have an estimated lifespan of about 20 years.
The third option is a $10.7 million plan to create a centralized plant just east of the Government Center to provide hot and chilled water to all of the city buildings, which totals about 700,000 square feet of space. About $2 million of the cost would likely come from Destination Medical Center funding sources.
The City Council will also be provided with information about expanding the system to provide hot and chilled water heating and cooling to future developments in and near the downtown area. That plan is estimated to cost about $14.7 million and could meet the heating and cooling needs of about 3 million square feet of space for the next 40 years.
At that scale, it would provide the most energy savings and the lowest carbon emissions of all of the options, while the annual debt service and operation costs would be similar to the less expensive options involving heating and cooling each of the 5 city buildings individually.
A decision will likely need to be made in the near future. Olmsted County currently plans to decommission the existing steam line in October 2023, although the city is requesting that be pushed back until the fall of 2024.
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