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Tech's Hot Water Loop Awarded To Albuquerque Contractor For $4.34 Million

Mountain Mail of Socorro, New Mexico

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SOCORRO - The campus of New Mexico Tech have a different look for the next few months while work goes on replacing pipes serving the hot water loop at the university. The Board of Regents issued a $4.34 million construction contract to replace the entire system, which has deteriorated.

In a special meeting Dec. 18, die regents issued the contract to TLC Plumbing and Heating of Albuquerque, which submitted the low bid of $4,338,000.

TLC Plumbing will have one year to complete die project. The hot water loop is me university's underground utility that provides heat to all buildings on campus. The aging system has suffered numerous failures in recent years. The 2010 project will replace die entire system in phases to minimize campus disruptions.

Work is set to begin in late February when TLC will set up a staging area in die parking lot north of Skeen Library.

University president Dan Lopez said he asked for die go-ahead before die end of die year because a hot water loop failure could present healdi and safety issues for Tech's students and employees due to heat loss during cold winter mondis.

"The hot water loop has been a windy road for the past five years," Lopez told the Regents. "Unfortunately, one of our (previous) bids was challenged and we had to open it up again.

"We had to get this moving before the legislative session met and they have been pulling back a lot of the capital money. We had eight bidders and we had five bids between $4.3 million and $5.4 million."

Kimela Miller, the director of purchasing services at the university, assured the Regents diat TLC Plumbing's licenses were all in order and current.

When completed, die hot water loop will also tie into die new geodiermal project currently under way at the base of 'M' Mountain. Geothermally heated water will be pumped from die mountain to a heat exchanger at the west side of campus. The heating loop will connect at die new facility.

Gross receipts tax generated by the $4.3 million project would boost the City of Socorro's revenue by $ 100,000 over die life of the project, according to Mayor Ravi Bhasker.

"Construction and services at New Mexico Tech are not gross receipts tax exempt," Bhasker said. "Normally die gross receipts tax is included in die bid.'

John Severance contributed to this article.

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Original Publication Date: January 7, 2010

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