Commonwealth Journal

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November 1, 2012

Somerset to develop energy hub

USDA’s $8.5M loan would build unique natural gas center

Somerset —  

The city of Somerset has been approved for an $8.5 million loan through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Community Facilities Program to develop and construct a modernistic energy hub.
“It was one of the largest projects approved at the close of the federal fiscal year ... they (USDA) liked the concept of the energy center ... the technology ... the potential for new jobs,” said Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler.
Girdler said the computerized energy center, first of its kind in Ke-tucky, will monitor the city’s vast natural gas pipe-line network. It also will include offices for a new city hall.
The loan should be sufficient to build the energy hub and will be retired with natural gas revenues. No tax money will be involved, the mayor said.
The center will be energy self-sufficient with an adjacent natural-gas powered generating station that will provide more than enough electricity to operate the facility. Excess electricity produced by the generator will be put in Kentucky Utilities’ electrical grid in a trade-off deal with the city, Girdler said.
The energy hub will be located at the corner of East Mt. Vernon and College streets on what is now a city parking lot. 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 former utilities building houses the Lake Cumberland Area Drug Task Force. Girdler said the agency is in the process of relocating.
Girdler used “modernistic” several times to describe the exterior of the three-story energy hub. “There will be lots of circular glass ... plenty of open space,” he noted. The building will face west, looking over the downtown area.

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