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Downtown Chiller Plant all but Done Deal


BRADENTON -- At Tuesday's BOCC Work Session, Charlie Bishop, Director of Manatee's Property Management, dotted the I's and crossed the T's for County Commissioners in preparation for the final step before signing the contracts to install the county's new Downtown Chiller Plant.

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A "District Cooling" Chiller Plant is slated to be installed on county property just north of the downtown Bradenton Post Office at U.S. 41 and Manatee Avenue.

Bishop and staff reviewed the economic and operational benefits proposed by Florida Power and Light services, which by all claims will recoup the cost of equipment and maintenance, saving the county millions of dollars over a 20-year period.

The county is facing significant costs from their aging facilities. Many of the county's buildings are using equipment older than some of those working in them.

Bishop says, "These new chillers will allow Manatee County to take a leadership role in downtown development." Bishop explained how the proposed project will allow a reduction in mechanical and electrical infrastructure for those buildings in the district cooling system.

Those within the system should expect; improved energy efficiency, decreased life-cycle cost, reliability, easier operations and maintenance and a smaller carbon footprint. 

Total project cost, $13,050,000. 

- Energy Services Company (ESCO), a division of FPL's financial services, will carry $6,500,000, which will be repaid through FPL's guaranteed savings.

- A separate county bank loan for the amount of $4,050,000 will be repaid from other energy revenue savings. (An RFP will be distributed to the few banks that handle this type of tailored loan).

- County equity/cash will supply the balance of $2,500,000 needed to complete the project.

The chiller plant on its own does not produce a positive return on investment without customers. It is through operational benefits and a reduced infrastructure cost that the savings appear. The county is currently facing millions in replacement cost for its now tattered and fatigued system.


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