The City Council this week will decide how it wants to dispense $21 million in federal and state dollars to help users of the downtown steam system convert to their own replacement systems.
A city review team — which includes city staff members, downtown business representatives, state leaders and large and small steam customers — is proposing a reimbursement program that devotes $8 million of the $21 million in aid for large customers, $8 million for smaller customers and $5 million to help “buy down” the cost of higher steam bills.
Of the $5 million, 70 percent will go to big users, though they represented 86 percent of overall steam usage from Alliant Energy’s flood-wrecked Sixth Street Generating Station, according to a memo to the City Council.
The plant, which had provided cheap steam for eight large customers and about 200 smaller ones, won’t be rebuilt because of cost. One plan to try to find federal and state money to rebuild the plant as it was — as a coal plant — was nixed by the City Council as spending too much public money on an old plant and an old technology.
According to this week’s council memo, the assumption is that a portion of the $8 million designated for the large customers — the Quaker and Cargill plants next to downtown are among the eight — won’t go to customers Coe College and the two hospitals because it is anticipated they will receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.