Avon wants 40 years of heat | VailDaily.com

Avon wants 40 years of heat

Lauren Glendenning
Avon, CO Colorado

AVON, Colorado “-Avon, Colorado’s Mayor Ron Wolfe sent a letter to the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District’s board chairman Bob Warner Thursday asking the board to reconsider the terms of a project the two agencies are trying to build together.

The Community Heat Recovery project would use heat from the Avon Wastewater Treatment Plant to melt snow on town streets of a soon-to-be renovated downtown area and heat the Avon Recreation Center. The state gave the town a $1.5 million grant for the project under an energy efficiency program.

The town and the Sanitation District have gone back and forth on the negotiations over the project, from the amount each would contribute to the latest disagreement over how long the partnership will last. The town wants it for 40 years; the District wants 20 years.

“A 20-year (intergovernmental agreement) term translates into less than 18 years of facility operation,” Wolfe wrote in the letter. “This is simply inadequate to recover the town’s $2.5 million investment.”

Wolfe said the town council wasn’t sure whether the district knew the reasons why the town thinks a 40-year term is so important when it voted for the lesser term at its April 23 meeting.

Diane Johnson, spokeswoman for the Sanitation District, said the Sanitation District’s board has been firm in contributing only what’s cost effective for the district. She said the board was actually more comfortable with a 10-year term, but compromised “as they understood Avon’s desire for a longer payback term.”

“A 40-year term could end up with a very high cost due to using today’s new technology that is unproved, likely to evolve, and very old and outdated before the end of that term,” Johnson said via e-mail. “Similarly, the life of the mechanical equipment is suspect for that long of term. The district’s experience with many mechanical systems in our plants is that their lifespan is far shorter, thus the board’s initial desire for a 10-year term.”

Johnson also cited the district’s contribution of land and effluent, which would be the source of heat for the project, as “in-kind” contributions, which should be included when considering the district’s total contribution, she said.

“The board’s decision to commit to a 20-year term considered the district’s investment in the project, the expected changes and improvements in technology, and the unknown of what may be needed at the Avon plant in 2029,” she said in the e-mail.

Avon Public Works Director Jennifer Strehler, who came up with the idea for the project, said the life of the equipment the town would build for the project is about 40 to 60 years. Things like pumps would need to be replaced sooner, but overall the equipment is expected to last at least 40 years, she said.

The agreement states that any facilities remaining on the Avon Wastewater Treatment Plant’s land 180 days after the term expires become the property of the district.

“(That equipment) isn’t going to do us any good after the project is over,” Strehler said. “We just need to have a 40-year term of this agreement to make this a cost effective project for this town.”

Wolfe said the 40-year term is consistent with the Sanitation District’s existing processes for similar infrastructure and for other land-lease agreements.

The two agencies have worked out several other disagreements in the project after months of negotiations, and this is the final piece that could derail the project if the two can’t agree. The district is scheduled to vote on the 40-year term at its May 28 meeting in Vail.

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com

The next Avon Town Council meeting is May 12, at 5:30 p.m. The town council wants to hear from community’s opinions about a plan to melt snow on the streets when Avon renovates part of its downtown.

The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District is scheduled to vote on the agreement at it’s May 28 meeting, which is held at the District’s Vail office at 846 Forest Rd. Visit http://www.erwsd.org for meeting times and agendas.

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