City of Courtenay declines to operate district energy system

If a district energy system is built to service buildings in the Lerwick and Ryan roads area, it won't be by the City of Courtenay.

If a district energy system is built to service buildings in the Lerwick and Ryan roads area, it won’t be by the City of Courtenay.

“Basically, we’re in support of facilitating and working to make this system happen, but not in favour of being the owner/operator of the system,” Courtenay director or operational services Kevin Lagan told council this week.

Council asked for a feasibility study after Farallon Consultants’ Stephen Salter’s September presentation about an idea for one in that area of Courtenay.

Salter noted buildings like North Island College, Queneesh Elementary School and the Aquatic Centre, plus the new hospital and medical centre could be candidates to join to a district energy system.

According to Farallon Consultants’ recently released feasibility study, the system would include three main components: an energy centre, distribution piping and energy transfer stations within client buildings.

After seeing the feasibility study, councillors agreed with Lagan.

While Lagan’s report to council noted the feasibility study concludes a district energy system “would be viable if potential clients paid $140/MWh,” his report also points out a variety of reasons the City should not be an owner/operator of such a system including: the City does not own land in the load centre; the City doesn’t have any buildings in the area to provide energy to; the majority of the energy (60 per cent) would go to the new Comox Valley hospital; and the City would have to borrow $7 million to build the system.

Lagan’s report also noted a district energy system here would create three full-time jobs, and a reduce CO2 emissions by 1,600 tonnes per year.

Although Lagan recommended the City limit its involvement in a district energy system in that area of Courtenay, he reiterated City staff are happy to act as facilitators.