GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Veolia Energy North America awarded a design/build contract to Progressive AE to upgrade its Grand Rapids district heating and cooling system. Progressive AE, based in Grand Rapids, is designing and installing a cutting-edge condensing heat exchanger, a sophisticated heat recovery technology that will reduce the volume of fuel consumed by at least 5 percent. This major upgrade will ensure competitive steam rates for customers served by the facility, while lowering the cost per pound of steam produced and reducing its overall carbon footprint. The project is scheduled to be completed in November.

“The city applauds Veolia Energy for its continued commitment to Grand Rapids,” said Mayor George Heartwell. “Veolia Energy has made significant efficiency upgrades that have helped Grand Rapids become a more sustainable community while investing in local businesses and workers.”

“We are very pleased to be awarded this contract and commend Veolia Energy for making these system upgrades,” said Bradley H. Thomas, P.E., president and CEO of Progressive AE. “With over 40 years of architecture, engineering, and construction experience on local and national projects, we understand the importance of this project and share Veolia Energy’s commitment to ensuring the long-term viability of this system, which is a vital resource for more than 125 customers in downtown Grand Rapids.”

Since the acquisition of the Kent County District Heating and Cooling System in December 2008, Veolia Energy has undertaken a systematic implementation process to increase the efficiency of the operations. The installation of the condensing heat exchanger is just one of several planned upgrades, which will also include re-insulating piping in manholes to reduce heat loss and reducing distribution system leaks. In addition, Veolia Energy will replace the old low-pressure distribution system, which constitutes about one quarter of the total distribution system, with a high-pressure system over the next three years.

“We are dedicated to identifying and implementing improvements to our system that will benefit the community of Grand Rapids,” said Keith Oldewurtel, vice president and general manager of Veolia Energy Grand Rapids LLC. “In addition to improving the system’s overall efficiency, these upgrades demonstrate our dedication to spurring economic development by making the system more sustainable, and delivering low costs to our customers in the process.”

District heating and cooling plays an integral role in Grand Rapids’ infrastructure, where Veolia Energy serves approximately 125 commercial, government, institutional, and health care customers. The centrally-produced thermal energy is distributed to customers in the Central Business District along 4 miles of high-pressure and 1.5 miles of low-pressure steam pipes.

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Publication date:11/02/2009