July 25, 2008
Neighbors Get Update on Hospital Boiler Plans
By JENNIFER SANTOS
QUINCY - Quincy Medical Center officials updated neighbors Tuesday night on plans to replace the steam boiler plant that has supplied the hospital with heat and hot water for more than 50 years.The plant's smokestack, at the rear of the hospital, has occasionally released black smoke for years, and the plant costs the hospital $2,500 a day in energy costs alone, said medical center President and Chief Executive Dr. Gary Gibbons.
The plant, which may or may not be torn down, burns No. 6 fuel oil.
"It's equivalent to road tar heated up," Ed Brown, vice president of clinical medical support systems, said at a neighborhood meeting on the proposal. The meeting was held at the hospital Tuesday night.
Browne said the steam boiler would be replaced with several natural gas energy units ranging in size from an end table to a pickup truck. Those units would be located throughout the hospital.
A smaller tank of diesel fuel is included in the proposed energy plan and would be used as a backup source.
Browne said there are gas lines in the neighborhood surrounding the hospital, along Adams, Colonial and Whitwell streets.
The hospital has also begun a study of alternative means of producing energy. Rooftop solar panels and wind energy are among the suggestions that have been made by the Hospital Hill Neighborhood Association and local residents.
"We're going to look at every alternative source of energy because we'd be foolish not to," Gibbons said.
The hospital will need approvals from various city agencies before doing any work, and the proposal is subject to revision.
The hospital recently acquired $20 million from refinancing old debt, and it plans to spend the money on other improvements, as well: a new ambulatory care center, an electronic medical records system, a communication system upgrade, a radiology department upgrade, and ceiling and other leak-related repairs, Gibbons said.
Local residents have complained of a jet plane-like noise coming from the steam boiler at about 1:30 a.m. Facility manager and engineer Blair Wentworth said that sound is from putting oxygen in the boilers.
Wentworth said he hopes that the proposed energy project would reduce noise, electricity costs and heat waste, especially in the summer.
Hospital officials said they hope to get bids on boiler replacement before winter.
Jennifer Santos may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published by By JENNIFER SANTOS, The Patriot Ledger.
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