Town backs shared hot water

TUPPER LAKE – The town board has backed the village’s proposed hot water district heating system.

During Thursday’s meeting, the town board agreed to submit a letter of support which says the town could provide up to $23,000 of in-kind services if the project is approved for a $1.9 million grant through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

The technology works by sending hot water through pipes to heat buildings. First, larger buildings, like the school, would be connected. Once the core system is established, businesses and residents could be hooked into it.

Sy Oliker, a professional engineer with the New Jersey-based Joseph Technology Corporation, the company at the helm of the project, told the Enterprise in January that the technology is popular in Europe and has seen an increase in popularity in China in recent years. The hot-water system is similar to the steam system that was installed in Manhattan about 100 years ago, but it’s more efficient.

The state Consolidated Funding Application requests a $1.9 million Cleaner, Greener Communities implementation grant through NYSERDA, which would go toward the nearly $2.6 million project.

To make up the difference, the request includes $75,000 in in-kind services. That’s $23,000 from the town, $18,000 from Paul Mitchell Logging, $15,000 from Northern Forest Center, $11,000 from The Wild Center nature museum and $8,000 from the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce. Letters of commitment from each of those entities was attached to the CFA, which the village finalized on Friday.

“The (town’s) support for the project will include expertise from the staff to achieve goals, participate in the project work groups, facilitate implementation of the system and assist with marketing,” Littlefield said.

The CFA also states that the village would contribute $600,000 by performing the civil construction work component using the village departments of water and sewer, and public works.

The grant would fund the first phase of the project, which is slated to be complete by the end of 2015. The entire project is slated to be complete by the end of 2016.

Last year, the village received a $300,000 NYSERDA grant to perform a feasibility study, which is underway, to look at replacing traditional heating systems with a village-wide boiler, possibly burning woody biomass or some other non-fossil fuel.

Biomass energy is usually obtained by burning plants. When managed correctly, biomass can be harvested from part of a constantly replenishing crop.

Town Councilman Mike Dechene said the new system could be good for Tupper Lake residents on several levels.

“They could tie the school into it, and hook up Sunmount to help reduce their costs,” Dechene said. “It could help with our school taxes. They’re also talking about building a plant here. That’s going to support our local people. There will be jobs created for the maintenance of lines and to run the plant, things like that.”

Statements in the CFA echo Dechene’s comments. It says the project would help Tupper Lake by reducing heating costs, particularly for Sunmount, which is currently heated using oil.

As a statement of need, the CFA says that, of the 62 counties in New York state, Franklin is the 58th in per-capita income. The current poverty rate is 11.7 percent in Tupper Lake, compared to the state’s 8.8 percent, and the unemployment rate was 9.7 percent in Tupper Lake versus the 7.6 percent state average.

The income per capita is 38.3 percent less than the rest of the state, and the average household income is 46.2 percent less than the rest of the state.

The CFA says the project would create 54 full-time-equivalent jobs and a total energy cost savings of $930,000 a year.

“It’s a good combined effort to get this happening in Tupper Lake,” Littlefield said. “That’s what we want to do, is have a bunch of projects where we work together on things, with sharing equipment, resources and expertise. It’s a good thing.”

Contact Shaun Kittle at 891-2600 ext. 26 or skittle@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.