City plans to dump Youngstown Thermal

By David Skolnick

and Kalea Hall


The city plans to dump Youngstown Thermal and go with Brewer-Garrett Co. to heat five of its downtown buildings.

The administration and Brewer-Garrett will make a presentation today to city council’s Buildings and Grounds Committee about a 15-year, $1.8 million contract, said Charles Shasho, the city’s deputy director of public works.

City council would have to approve the administration’s recommendation with legislation expected in front of the legislative body as soon as at its next meeting Wednesday.

The contract would save the city about $3 million over a period of about seven to 10 years, he said.

The Middleburg Heights-based Brewer-Garrett Co. has expertise in commercial energy efficiency, according to its website.

The change from Youngstown Thermal to Brewer-Garrett would be done by summer 2017, Shasho said.

The city received proposals Aug. 6, 2015, from the two companies for the work.

The city had decided to re-evaluate its contract with Youngstown Thermal for heating after Youngstown State University, the company’s largest client, voted to end its contract with the firm. That deal expired in June.

The city opted to negotiate with Brewer-Garrett because it preferred its experience and expertise, Shasho said.

The five buildings that will be switched are city hall, the attached police department as well as the Covelli Centre, 20 Federal Place office building and the downtown fire station.

The plan would be to build an on-site steam boiler for city hall and the police department, convert the fire station from steam to electric, and make 20 Federal Place and the Covelli Centre all electric, Shasho said.

“This is unbelievable,” said Carl Avers, chief executive officer of Youngstown Thermal, after he found out the city’s plans.

Avers said the city never contacted the company about its service proposal.

He believes the city needs a third-party professional independent engineering firm to evaluate the proposals.

“They couldn’t have had it analyzed correctly or they wouldn’t have come out with a wrong answer,” Avers said.

Youngstown Thermal is a district energy system that uses steam for space heating, hot water heating and chilling.

The system eliminates cost for customers because they do not have to maintain their own boilers and chillers, according to the Youngstown Thermal website.

Avers plans to attend the city meetings and voice his opinion about the intended switch.

“I’ve been in this business for 40 years and I have dealt with a lot of customers like the city who think it’s cheaper to do their own system, but it simply is not,” Avers said. “We are moving forward with our plans, which is to stay in business. At the end of the day, people will rejoin the steam district.”

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