Meeting Notes by Becky Hoover
Imagine. Downtown Akron 2025
Planning for Operations and Infrastructure
Thermal Energy System
September 21, 2005
- Review of the history and development of Akrons thermal energy system
- What are the current issues regarding Akron Thermal Energy?
- Currently, Akron Thermal serves 87 customers for steam and 21 customers for chilled
water. These organizations need an affordable, reliable, and safe energy source.
- Many of these customers do not have the ability to produce steam or chilled water except
for short-term or emergency needs.
- There are thousands of downtown employees whose workplaces are heated by Akron Thermal.
Interruption of service would cause significant disruptions to business, as well as
serious health and safety concerns.
- City of Akron
- Since 1995, The City has had a lease with Akron Thermal to supply steam, hot water, and
chilled water to downtown buildings.
- The City owns the plants and subsidizes their operations.
- Tax money is used to subsidize these plants.
- Environmental issues related to the burning of fuel and the safety of the both the
plants and the infrastructure for steam delivery are of public concern.
- Financial Challenges for Akron Thermal
- When Akron Thermal took over the operation of the power plant in 1995, it was largely
dependent on natural gas.
- The rising cost of natural gas caused deficits in the first several years of operation
because there were no commensurate increases in rates charged to customers.
- Investments over the last several years have enabled the plant to use lower cost fuels,
including wood, shredded tires, waste oil, and coal.
- Despite the use of lower cost fuels, revenues have not kept pace with rising production
- New investments in emerging technologies can further reduce costs and increase
- Financial Advantages that Akron Thermal provides to Stakeholders
- A district energy provider like Akron Thermal can provide economies of scale that are
not available to individual customers.
- Investments in new technologies can reduce cost.
- Innovations in fuel sources and processing can improve efficiency and reduce negative
- Akron Thermal can provide cost savings to customers. This savings can enhance economic
development by providing a competitive advantage for businesses located in the downtown
- Next steps
- Meet with Customers
- Bring together large customers of Akron Thermal to discuss challenges and opportunities
during the spring of 2006.
- Evaluate expansion of delivery system to new customers.
- Include Akron Thermal Issues in Discussions about the Future of Downtown
- Educate Taxpayers
- Akron Thermal will communicate to customers and the public about the advantages it
- The City of Akron will oversee the development and delivery of these communications.
- Key Points to Share with Customers and the Public
- Akron Thermal offers competitive prices to downtown customers.
- Cost savings are possible due to the pooled resources available for capital investments
and operational improvements.
- Akron Thermal is a significant asset owned by the City. Accordingly, its management is
appropriately supervised by and accountable to the City through routine audits and other
- The shared services model allows all customers to benefit from Akron Thermals
physical plant and personnel rather than making independent investments.
- Eliminates inefficiency and excessive redundancy (some redundancy is appropriate for
emergency back up in critical areas).
- Staffing capabilities are enhanced because many customers are sharing the services of
technicians and administrators.
- Shared responsibility and accountability enable greater responsiveness to the changing
requirements of federal and other regulatory agencies.