Commonwealth Journal

News Live

April 24, 2014

Bidding for Somerset’s energy center delayed

Somerset — Opening construction bids for Somerset’s proposed new energy center has been delayed to give prospective bidders sufficient time to review the plans and line up subcontractors. The new bid-opening time and date is 2 p.m. May 27 at Somerset City Hall.

Mayor Eddie Girdler said an original bid advertisement published April 15 and a then-scheduled opening on May 6 apparently did not give interested contractors sufficient time. Girdler indicated the timeframe was squeezed by necessary approval of plans by Kentucky Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction, and returning approved plans to the city.

There is considerable interest among contractors in the $8.5 million energy center. Girdler said as of Wednesday, four in-state contractors and one out-of-state firm had picked up copies of the bidding documents and complex plans. A pre-bid conference for contractors will be held May 6.

“I expect we will have five or six proposals,” Girdler predicted.

The planned energy center will be a glass-bedecked centerpiece in downtown Somerset. The complex is a computerized nerve center that will monitor the city’s vast natural gas network. It will have space for a city hall complex to replace the former automotive repair shop building converted to a honeycombed city hall in 1951.

The 36,200-square-foot modernistic energy center will be located on what is now a city parking lot at the corner of East Mt. Vernon and College streets. The area will be expanded by demolition of the former Meece Hardware building on the west side of the parking lot; the former city utilities building on the west side of College Street north of the parking lot; and the current city utilities building on the east side of College Street just north of Somerset City Hall. The existing city hall facing East Mt. Vernon Street will be torn down to make way for a parking lot.

Heart of the energy center will be on the second floor. It will contain the technology center and engineers’ offices as well as space for city police department detectives and planning and zoning department.

An emergency command center will be in a portion of the basement along with police department lockers, mechanical and electrical areas and storage space.

The top floor is labeled as future space. Girdler said this area will be left mainly vacant for future research and development work with the private sector.

The center will be energy self-sufficient. An adjacent natural gas powered generator will provide electrical power for the center and more. Excess electricity will be put in Kentucky Utilities’ grid in a trade-off deal with the city.

Girdler and members of Somerset City Council believe natural gas is the fuel of the future, and Somerset has a plentiful supply. In addition to a pipeline built during the 1970s to eastern Kentucky gas fields, Somerset has a gas pipeline to a Texas Eastern terminal in Casey County that crosses two interstate pipelines.

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