Tom Soter in Bricks & Bucks
"We did some research with different companies to find out what the savings would be," says Catalic. Reviewing past oil bills to compare prior oil consumption with potential future natural gas use, the board saw the cost difference. The manager then brought in Original Energy, a division of Robison Energy and an energy systems consultant and provider of natural gas services to commercial and residential customers. Its engineers drew up specifications for the type of boiler that would be best. The co-op had two boilers running at 175 horsepower each; the new boilers would run at 300 horsepower apiece.
The project work, handled by Atlas Welding Company, began last March. It was supervised by Price, who was there every day, says Catalic, "to make sure somebody was there, and that the work was productive. He was just keeping an eye on things."
First, the two full boilers were ripped out and removed. As Catalic recalls: "They cut the boilers into a million pieces and then they took the pieces of the old boilers out through the same doorway that we have right now. Then they built the new boilers inside the basement space, piece by piece and section by section."
The relatively simple job became complicated early on. "Our original plan was to run the gas line outside of the building, to dig out, to trench it, to bury it, and leave it there," explains Catalic. "As soon as they got about halfway up, they ran to these massive boulders. They tried jack-hammering them. They wouldn't budge. It changed the whole run of the new gas line. It had to be rerouted to go up about 10 feet along the building and go through the parking garage along the ceiling all the way through the storage room and into the boiler, which ended up costing us quite a bit more money, about another $24,000."
The job cost originally was budgeted at $481,000, and an additional $6,900 was spent on a Con Ed gas leak test. A very small amount of that came from the operating account, but the majority was from a $500,000 line of credit the co-op had with its mortgage-holder, HSBC.
After waiting for months to get the final signoff by Con Ed, the job was more or less finished in January of this year, although as of mid-May, the Department of Buildings had not responded to frequent requests for its final approval.
Photo by Brian Jeffrey
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