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Firm Tells Claremont Heating System to Be Ready by Fall

Claremont — The company planning to build a new alternative energy system to generate and deliver hot water and heat to downtown commercial buildings told the City Council Wednesday night that its goal is to have the first phase of the project around Opera House Square running by next winter.

Dick Henry, founding director of Hot Zero LLC of New Hampshire and the company’s Managing Director Michael Jesanis said they would like to begin installation of the underground pipes in the fall that will carry the hot water.

Last May, when Hot Zero made its first presentation to the City Council, the council authorized the city administration to negotiate right-of-ways to install about 1,200 feet of pipe for the pilot system.

Since then, Henry said they have completed a feasibility study on the heating needs of the buildings around Opera House Square, which are targeted to be the first customers. These include the Moody Building, Farwell Block, Union Block, Brown Block and City Hall.

“We are in a much better position now to say that this will work,” Jesanis said after addressing the council. “We have a much greater sense of the needs.” The city has no financial obligation with the project.

The new hot water district would utilize excess heat or heat from a new source to generate hot water that is distributed through pipes to different buildings in close proximity. Each building would have heat exchangers to transfer the heat from the district loop to the building’s pipes for heating or domestic hot water. Once used, the water would be returned in an alternate pipe back to the source. A hot water district energy system can cut heating cost as much as 20 percent, Jesanis said.

“Claremont has no access to natural gas (usually less costly than oil) so we need to find another way to reduce heating cost,” he added.

Henry told the council that its initial heat source would be a new biomass plant but they have not finalized its location.

“We see a biomass base as critical,” Henry said.

There are still a lot of pieces left before the system is online — including financing — but Henry and Jesanis said they have made a lot of progress in their discussions with building owners.

“They are saving 10 to 20 percent on heating with very little cost to participate and their existing system stays in place,” Henry said. “We believe we have a very attractive offer.” Jesanis said biomass or waste heat are not energy fuel sources subject to market fluctuations that can be the result of cold weather, world events or other disruptions.

The main cost of the project is the underground pipes, which the company will bury below the sidewalks. Once that is done, Hot Zero will cover the cost of resurfacing the sidewalks.

Because of their material and insulating qualities, the pipes can be buried only 2 feet below the surface, Henry said.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.