Workers break ground on Fortis BC project in Delta
Neilson Grove Elementary in Ladner was the site of a groundbreaking ceremony today by Fortis BC to build systems that will allow the delivery of thermal energy to 19 educational buildings in the Delta School District.
The $6.4 million investment into the thermal energy production facilities was developed between FortisBC, the school district and the province with the goal of delivering efficient thermal energy (cooling and heating) using geoexchange systems and high efficiency natural gas boilers.
The new project will not only result in a 45 per cent reduction in energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 70 per cent, it's estimated the cost savings to the district will be $180,000 a year.
"This is the right thing to do, obviously, for the bottom line," said Richmond-Steveson MLA John Yap, Minister of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology.
Yap said it was also a "teachable moment" for children who will see the project develop on their own schoolyard. The geoexchange pipes will be installed under the ground, using solar heat trapped in the earth to warm the school buildings.
"What people have to realize is that these are high tech green jobs," said Delta school district trustee Laura Dixon.
"We get to see the future of the economy by demonstrating to the kids what these jobs look like."
A grant through the Public Sector Energy Conservation Agreement (PSECA) provided assistance to the Delta School District project with an investment of $1.4 million. Fortis is paying for the rest, and will maintain ownership of the infrastructure and be responsible for the maintenance and replacement costs.
The school district will only pay for the end product, the heating and cooling.
Fortis has been working with the school district since 2009 on the project and received the green light from the BC Utilities Commission earlier this spring. Frank Geyer, director of facilities and planning with the Delta School District, said the proposal was put through the BCUC to protect the interests of taxpayers and guarantee the school district will have an energy provider regardless of what happens to Fortis.
Construction is expected to be completed and fully operational by late 2013 or early 2014. Geoexchange heating and cooling is done through the use of ground source heat pumps, which work by transferring underground heat and circulating it through a building.