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May 12. 2013 8:32PM

Experimental program will heat Claremont buildings with hot water

CLAREMONT — The City Council unanimously voted 9-0 Wednesday night to start a pilot program in the city that would heat buildings with hot water.

“We think it’s a great opportunity. We know it will work. We want to see how much energy we save,” city manager Guy Santagate said Thursday. “I’m delighted it’s become a reality.”

Santagate said the vote allows him to enter into an agreement with Concord-based private company HotZero.

The opportunity was made possible by a slight change to state law made by legislators recently and signed into law on Tuesday by Gov. Maggie Hassan that makes room for private firms to compete with utility companies, he said.

The new system would be available in November after the company installed the infrastructure for the system under the sidewalks and streets in the Opera House district of downtown.

This would provide the heating system to the Claremont Opera House building where city hall, the police station and the district court are located, as well as the fire station building and the city-owned Farwell Block building next door to the Opera House.

If the pilot program is a success the system would be expanded throughout downtown, Santagate said.

“If the system works the way we believe, there will be huge energy savings,” he said.

HotZero is footing the bill for the infrastructure, he said.

Historic downtown has a lot of beautiful architecture as well as a lot of wasted space since the large older buildings are expensive to heat, he said.

Santagate said he expects the new system to save 20 percent or more in heating costs.

Not only would the new system save existing Claremont businesses money, but it would encourage the growth of new business downtown, which feeds the ongoing efforts by officials to revitalize the city economically, according to Santagate.

“Energy costs are such a big obstacle on the business side,” he said. “The goal is to expand it beyond the downtown area.”

mpierce@newstote.com


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