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Canadian Yellowknife a step closer to geothermal district heating system

City of Yellowknife, NWT/ Canada (source: flickr/ Hyougushi, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 14 Nov 2010

The Canadian city of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories is a step closer to seeing a geothermal district heating system project to start utilizing warmth from a defunct mine below the city.

Canadian news report that the city of Yellowknife, the largest city in the Northwest Territories, is “one step closer to heating the city’s downtown with warmth recovered from the earth below the now defunct Con Mine.

Council unanimously passed the recommendation Monday to request expressions of interest from private sector companies wanting to partner in the community energy plan, which will heat 39 building in the downtown core.

All of the councillors expressed their excitement with similar sentiments about Yellowknife being self-sufficient and environmentally conscious.

“The idea of recovering ground source heat and providing it to local property owners and businesses for a fair price, all the while reducing our oil consumption around seven million litres annually and reducing greenhouse gas emissions upward of 20,000 tonnes annually, in my mind that equals a sensible approach to a self-sufficient city,” said city councillor Cory Vanthuyne. “I think that (the community energy plan) also includes benefits such as keeping our utility revenues local, as opposed to going to the south.”

Coun. Bob Brooks added the project also has potential to reduce the cost of living in the city’s downtown.

“It’s a win-win for the city,” he said.

The estimated capital cost for the project is $60.4 million. The city’s portion of the project will be debt financed, to be repaid by utility revenues.

The city’s proposed 2011 community energy plan budget, which is pending approval, has allotted $250,000 to support the development process.

In January, the federal government pledged between $10 million and $20 million to the community energy system, which would begin servicing parts of the downtown core by 2013 if the project moves forward.

The city will be accepting expressions of interest until March 2011. From there, it will determine the ownership structure, which could be wholly owned by the city or split so the municipality owns the distribution system and a private company owns the energy generation.

Coun. David Wind said “the reason private sector participation is important is because it validates the economic viability that this project would present.”

Although he’s excited about the project, Wind said because there’s so much money involved, he won’t support it unless there is clear support from the residents of Yellowknife.”

Source: Northern News Services