Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper must really need “less grief and more sleep” based on his most recent quote about the geothermal heating and cooling system project at the Colorado State Capitol. Yesterday, Hickenlooper offered the following insight to the Denver Post about the now-ready project:
“Several things — one, it (the Capitol) needs it, and there is a high return on the investment and resources,” he said. “Two, it is symbolic. Third, in terms of branding, the next time we are going out for Ardent Mills or another company to move here, it becomes part of that attraction to get people to move here.”
Wow. With a Governor who thinks our State’s value proposition for relocating businesses is a gimmicky heating and cooling system in the State Capitol building, it’s no wonder that Colorado is falling behind in business friendliness and access to capital.
But, then, there’s the cost-benefit analysis of this spiffy new system.
In a 2010 article about the new system, it was revealed that new system would cost $6 million and was scheduled to be completed in the Spring of 2011. It’s two years past it’s original timeline, which sounds about right for a government construction project. While today’s announcement didn’t reveal the final price tag, it did boast of savings of over $100,000 per year and three percent additional savings per year on top of that.
So, in case you aren’t following, the government spent $6 million to save $100,000 and some change per year. At that rate, it will take decades to make up the cost. The lifespan of this technology hasn’t been revealed, so it’s unclear if this new system will ever pay for itself.
Republican State Senator Kevin Lundberg, a proponent of green energy, expressed similar concerns to the Colorado News Agency in 2010, when the project was announced:
“Yet, Republican state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, of Berthoud, said today the project won’t reach the point of breaking even for decades, and the price is too high to make sense.”
But, don’t worry. This neat-o system, which makes Colorado the second state to have a geothermal heating and cooling system in its state Capitol, will attract new businesses to the state.