UND has decided to partner with a private firm, as it prepares to replace its aging steam plant.
UND has chosen Johnson Controls as the plant’s operator. UND’s Mike Pieper told a subcommittee of the Board of Higher Education Johnson Controls is partnering with some other engineering and architectural firms. Pieper said UND worked with the partners to come up with some ideas to keep steam rates down when the new plant goes on-line.
"We strongly believe we can put a steam plant solution together without increasing costs to our customers," Pieper said. He also said it's a good time to start a construction project.
"The construction environment is very good right now," Pieper said. "Timing may be in our favor."
Pieper said UND will not be asking the Legislature for funding. Rather, he said the costs to repay the loan will come from user fees.
Pieper said the goal is to award contracts this summer.
"We feel comfortable that, not only do we get rid of our current business risk, we get a plant that will be maintained at the level it needs to be maintained," Pieper said. "That, so that the amount of deferred maintenace won't start to stack up."
Besides the UND Campus, the plant will provide steam to Altru Health, the North Dakota School for the Blind and a Grand Forks elementary school close to the campus.