Although the Carmel City Council cancelled its regular meeting on Dec. 1, councilors did meet briefly to approve $300,000 for Carmel’s energy center.
The money is to help pay for unexpected expenses due to rising costs and replacing equipment.
The energy center itself is a very complicated operation. Basically, engineers decided that a separate mechanical house would service the heating and cooling needs of several city buildings, including the police station, the fire station, city hall, the James Building and the Center for the Performing Arts.
The center runs 24/7 and switches from building to building to provide heat or air conditioning, which the city says is more cost efficient. Plus, it helps with acoustics in The Palladium.
“The Energy Center has many benefits to the City,” City Spokeswoman Nancy Heck previously said in a statement. “It is creating a more cost efficient way to heat and cool several buildings using one system rather than having separate systems for each structure, and has allowed us to replace an aging system in older buildings.”
But it has its challenges. Steve Engelking, the city’s director of administration, said the energy center, “was likened one time to a submarine-type helm and we’re finding that out this year.”
“Due to the extreme weather with the cold, gas costs skyrocketed,” he said. “And this summer due to some extreme anomalies with humidity, we had high electrical costs.”
Between the two, the city saw about $150,000 in extra costs. In addition, Engelking said they’ve experienced, “thirty such instances which include replacement of pumps, replacement of various other pieces of equipment throughout the year,” totaling $146,000. Add the two together and that makes up the $300,000 appropriation.
The Carmel City Council approved the funds and will transfer them from the city’s general fund, which had extra money in its operating balance available.
The ownership of the energy center is also complicated with some city councilors claiming they were confused about whether it was city-owned. City Councilor Eric Seidensticker explained that the city sold the energy center and is now buying it back, making payments. According to the Mayor’s Office: “CFP Carmel Indiana Energy Center LLC technically owns it, but once the CRC fully pays the Certificates of Participation, Series 2010C, then the CRC will take ownership.”