Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tech’s Hot Water Loop Awarded To Albuquerque Contractor For $4.34 Million

By John Larson

SOCORRO - The campus of New Mexico Tech have a different look for the next few months while work goes on replacing pipes serving the hot water loop at the university. The Board of Regents issued a $4.34 million construction contract to replace the entire system, which has deteriorated.
In a special meeting Dec. 18, the regents issued the contract to TLC Plumbing and Heating of Albuquerque, which submitted the low bid of $4,338,000.
TLC Plumbing will have one year to complete the project. The hot water loop is the university’s underground utility that provides heat to all buildings on campus. The aging system has suffered numerous failures in recent years. The 2010 project will replace the entire system in phases to minimize campus disruptions.
Work is set to begin in late February when TLC will set up a staging area in the parking lot north of Skeen Library.
University president Dan Lopez said he asked for the go-ahead before the end of the year because a hot water loop failure could present health and safety issues for Tech’s students and employees due to heat loss during cold winter months.
“The hot water loop has been a windy road for the past five years,” Lopez told the Regents. “Unfortunately, one of our (previous) bids was challenged and we had to open it up again.
“We had to get this moving before the legislative session met and they have been pulling back a lot of the capital money. We had eight bidders and we had five bids between $4.3 million and $5.4 million.”
Kimela Miller, the director of purchasing services at the university, assured the Regents that TLC Plumbing’s licenses were all in order and current.
When completed, the hot water loop will also tie into the new geothermal project currently under way at the base of ‘M’ Mountain. Geothermally heated water will be pumped from the mountain to a heat exchanger at the west side of campus. The heating loop will connect at the new facility.
Gross receipts tax generated by the $4.3 million project would boost the City of Socorro’s revenue by $100,000 over the life of the project, according to Mayor Ravi Bhasker.
“Construction and services at New Mexico Tech are not gross receipts tax exempt,” Bhasker said. “Normally the gross receipts tax is included in the bid.”
John Severance contributed to this article.

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