Manatee County's proposed new chiller plant a wise investment

January 16, 2014 

Manatee County plans to build a chiller plant at this site in Bradenton, which is now a parking lot between a U.S. Post Office and a Wells Fargo bank. TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/Bradenton Herald

TTOMPKINS@BRADENTON.COM Buy Photo

I'd like to address a few concerns outlined in a Jan. 9 letter to the editor from Gary D. Bogart regarding Manatee County's proposed downtown chiller plant. As the county's Property Management director, I oversee the maintenance, repair and renovation of more than 300 public facilities and parks throughout Manatee County.

Since becoming director in 2009, our energy improvements and efficiencies have resulted in an annual savings of more than $1.2 million in taxpayer dollars, money that has been used to offset widespread service reductions to the community during the recession.

We disagree with Mr. Bogart's statement that the chiller is a high maintenance system with hidden costs. Water treatment must be addressed in any large chiller system, whether it cools one building or whether it's part a centralized system that cools several. Water treatment technology advancements can now identify real time conditions and effectively head off major system problems before they occur.

The proposed plant includes a sophisticated water treatment system that will help ensure water acidity does not erode parts and escalate maintenance costs, as suggested.

Also contrary to Mr. Bogart's commentary, the proposed chiller plant will greatly improve redundancies at our downtown facilities. The new system will have an alternate electrical service that can be automatically switched on if there's a problem with the primary feeder. The central plant will also include backups that will quickly connect to emergency chillers in the event of an outage.

Sustainability, smart investment, energy and water efficiency and taxpayer savings are at the heart of every action Property Management makes on a daily basis. With projected multimillion dollar savings over 20 years, greatly improved energy efficiencies, reduced impact on the environment and the potential for public-private partnership, we believe the proposed chiller plant to be a smart investment in Manatee County's future.

Charlie Bishop, Manatee County Property Management Director

East Manatee

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