“With these two projects the city is taking important steps to lower its greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy savings,” says MP Bob Zimmer. “By using a micro-hydro unit to use wastewater to produce electricity the city will offset a significant amount of energy use every year.”
The power house will be built downhill from the city’s south lagoons, that will use a turbine to convert the motion of the water into electricity, producing approximately 930 megawatt hours annually. That’s enough to power around 100 houses, but the city will have options for how it’s used.
“When the outflow goes out to the river, it’s really just heading out there so you might as well make use of it, add value to it,” explains Mayor Lori Ackerman.
There’s a possibility that power could be sold to B.C. Hydro through the power grid in the Old Fort, which would be the cheapest and easiest option, depending on what rate the city could get. Fort St. John could also keep it for itself to power facilities in the area like the high-lift pump station or the blower buildings at the lagoons which are a high user of power. The design is expected to be completed by the end of this year, with construction having to be finished by March 2015.
Meanwhile, the Pomeroy Sport Centre project will recover heat that’s generated by its refrigerant plant, which in turn will heat the facility and adjacent City propertyies. Along with the other energy conservation measures already in those buildings, the City’s Greenhouse Gas emissions will be reduced by 20 per cent and energy costs will go down significantly.
UBCM President Mary Sjostrom explains that grants like this from the government mean communities can work on sustainable infrastructure like this.
“This is why the gas tax is so important,” she argues. “It’s something that helps accelerate projects, we don’t just have to do it with local funding. Our normal system of taxation doesn’t allow us to do it.”
The City has been looking at these projects for a couple of years now, but couldn’t afford them without the grant.