Unique Avon heating project OK’d | VailDaily.com

Unique Avon heating project OK’d

Lauren Glendenning
lglendenning@vaildaily.com
Avon, CO Colorado

AVON, Colorado ” The town of Avon, Colorado is finally ready to build an innovative heating system with help from the state and the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

After months of negotiations between the town and the Sanitation District, the two agencies agreed on a 20-year term for what’s being called the Avon Heat Recovery Project. The district signed the contract Thursday, said Diane Johnson, spokeswoman for the District.

The project will use heat generated by the treatment of wastewater from the Avon wastewater treatment plant to heat streets in the Main Street area the town plans to build, the Avon Recreation Center and offices at the plant.

The state’s department of local affairs gave the town a $1.5 million grant for the project under a state program encouraging energy efficiency ” the second highest amount awarded out of 14 state projects.

If the district and the town couldn’t agree on the terms before October, the state would have pulled the $1.5 million.

The two agencies first couldn’t agree on the amount each would contribute ” Avon officials thought the district would give more in the beginning than it ultimately did ” and then on the length of time the partnership would last. The state grant only required the project operate for 10 years, but the town wanted 40 years and the sanitation district wanted 20.

The Avon Town Council agreed 20 years wouldn’t be enough at its April 28 meeting, saying the town’s $2.5 million contribution couldn’t be justified for a 20-year term. Mayor Ron Wolfe sent a letter to the District on April 30 saying the town “simply can not spend tax payer money with such a short return period.”

But Avon Town Manager Larry Brooks said Friday the district had some concerns about the project the town wasn’t hearing ” concerns about locking into a project for so long when new technology could make it obsolete in much less time, for example.

“Once we understood their concerns, we understood we shared a common interest,” Brooks said. “There was no reason we couldn’t reach an understanding on the 20-year term.”

Since the infrastructure for the project is going to be built on the district’s property, the district has the right to shut it all down at the end of the 20 years. Brooks said if the district does that he’s confident it would be for good reason.

Linn Brooks, the district’s assistant general manager, said the district is pleased to be involved with such an innovative project.

“It’s a great feeling to take what was considered a waste or by-product and put it to beneficial use for the environment and the community,” she said in a statement Friday.

Power for the system will be provided by wind-generated electricity bought from Holy Cross Energy, resulting in a near-zero carbon footprint, according to the statement.

The next steps include finishing the project’s final design by October before construction can begin sometime next spring, Larry Brooks said.

“This is going to be a real interesting project,” he said.

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


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