September 27, 2013

State seeks bidders to provide natural gas to buildings

STAFF REPORT

AUGUSTA — The state is seeking suppliers to provide natural gas to state-owned buildings once other companies complete the necessary pipelines.

The Bureau of General Services announced late Friday it had issued a request for quotations for vendors to provide natural gas supply for state-owned buildings in Augusta, Hallowell, Waterville and Vassalboro.

"Supplying these state facilities with natural gas is expected to dramatically reduce their annual heating costs," Gov. Paul LePage said in the news release. "As governor, I take seriously the need to ensure that the taxes paid by hard-working Mainers are used responsibly. The conversion of state facilities to natural gas is consistent with my vision of lowering energy costs in Maine."

The state already awarded contracts earlier this month to the two competing natural gas companies to build distribution pipes to the state buildings.

Maine Natural Gas received awards for 19 of the 30 projects, including the four high-use buildings identified in the request for proposals: the Augusta Mental Health Institute power house, Cross State Office Building, Riverview Psychiatric Center and the Department of Health and Human Services main office. The awards total $965,464.

Summit Natural Gas was the only bidder on three projects in Vassalboro and two in Waterville, and it received contract awards for six other buildings in Augusta and Hallowell. The 11 awards total $765,451.

The top four priority facilities are anticipated to be capable of heating with natural gas by Nov. 1, and the additional facilities are expected to be fully operational with natural gas-burning components on a schedule to be determined by the state, according to the request for quotations.

Summit, a subsidiary of Colorado-based Summit Utilities, and Maine Natural Gas, a subsidiary of Iberdrola USA, were the two finalists in the state's previous bidding process, which started in 2011 and ended last year after state officials acknowledged the evaluation process was flawed and rejected all bids.

Maine Natural Gas, which had the previous winning bid before all bids were rejected, sued the state, but its lawsuit was dismissed in March.

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