Montpelier’s City Council has voted not to proceed with a district energy project that voters overwhelmingly approved.
The project called for the city to enter a contract with the state to purchase thermal energy that would heat municipal and private buildings.
The state had given the city a deadline of the end of this month to make a decision, saying it needed to know what size boilers to order before construction.
But at a meeting Wednesday night some councilors raised questions about whether participating in such a project was an appropriate role for city government. Others had concerns about potential financial risks if there weren’t enough customers. The Council opposed the plan, 4-to-2.
Montpelier Mayor John Hollar supports the heating district project because, he says, the benefits of larger wood-chip boilers are tremendous.
"They provide Montpelier – both the city government and many, many businesses downtown – with long-term stable cost of fuel," Hollar said in a phone interview Thursday. "I think that the numbers work. The project was one that provides significant financial and environmental benefits to our community."
Hollar says there’s still a chance, through further discussions with the state, to change councilors’ minds and call another meeting.