SVMC seeks town approval for new boiler plant


BENNINGTON >> The Southwestern Vermont Medical Center wants to build a new heating plant on its campus, a project that aims to reduce the hospital's emissions and operating costs.

The project's development plan received preliminary approval from Development Review Board members on Tuesday night.

The hospital and its parent company Southwestern Vermont Health Care seek to replace old, inefficient oil-burning boilers with new, efficient clean-burning boilers, according to Jason Dolmetsch, president and project engineer with MSK Engineering and Design.

The new plant would serve the entire campus on Hospital Drive and would burn compressed natural gas instead of oil.

"It should be a much cleaner fuel source," Dolmetsch said.

In addition to development plan approval from the town, SVMC is also seeking a permit from the state's healthcare regulatory board. The "certificate of need" application was first submitted to the state's Green Mountain Care Board last October, according to the board's website. The most recent draft of the application is from June.

The current boilers are more than 35 years old and "significantly beyond their useful life of 25 years," the application states.

"The total project cost of is estimated to be $3,750,000 and is expected to reduce operating expenses by more than $200,000 annually," the application states.

One of the new boilers could later be converted to run on biomass "if future fuel price, availability or regulations make it favorable to burn biomass fuel," the application states.

The proposal before DRB members was for a 3,610-squarefoot prefabricated metal building on the north end of the hospital campus, to the east of an existing maintenance building. The new structure would house two new boilers and related infrastructure.

Both existing burners, which would be decommissioned, currently burn number 6 fuel oil, which Dolmetsch and Planning Director Dan Monks said was an inefficient, outdated fuel source.

Dolmetsch said the two new boilers will be able to burn compressed natural gas (CNG) or number 2 fuel oil.

Steam would be piped underground to buildings on the hospital's campus. The site plan includes a proposed fuel delivery and storage area, with a compressed natural gas decompression station and a 20,000 gallon above-ground fuel oil storage tank.

Contact Ed Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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