Cost of fir­ing caul­dron hot topic

Crown corp. re­spon­si­ble for Poole plaza un­able to an­swer why so costly

The Province - - News - FRANK LUBA THE PROV­INCE

Light­ing costs for the Olympic Caul­dron must be a hot topic — be­cause the B.C. Pavil­ion Corp. was very re­luc­tant to touch it Thurs­day.

While for­mer Olympic host city Cal­gary lit its torch for the on­go­ing Games in Sochi that be­gan Feb. 7, Van­cou­ver’s four-armed caul­dron on Jack Poole Plaza re­mained cold and dark, with only an LED light dec­o­ra­tion.

Pub­lic outcry and pri­vate do­na­tions were enough to get PavCo, the Crown cor­po­ra­tion re­spon­si­ble for the plaza, to light the caul­dron Wed­nes­day night.

The plan is to have the caul­dron lit for two hours, start­ing at 6 p.m., on the days when Canada wins a gold medal, and on the fi­nal day of the Games in Rus­sia.

The cost of light­ing the caul­dron was pegged at $5,000 for four hours or more than $200,000 if the flames were to burn through­out the Games. But an­swers to ques­tions such as how much gas would be burned, how much it would cost and why it seemed so ex­pen­sive were not read­ily avail­able.

Kate Hud­son, PavCo’s di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and stake­holder re­la­tions, fi­nally said in an email Thurs­day that the “cost of light­ing the Olympic Caul­dron is more than just the fuel.”

“It in­cludes specialist tech­ni­cians and se­cu­rity per­son­nel who have to be on site for the du­ra­tion of each light­ing dur­ing the Games,” she said. “The cu­mu­la­tive cost of more than $200,000 for the du­ra­tion of the Games takes into ac­count all of these fac­tors.

“As you know, the Caul­dron burns on nat­u­ral gas de­liv­ered by Fortis B.C. ...

“In terms of spe­cific de­tails re­gard­ing the hourly fuel costs, I am un­able to pro­vide that in­for­ma­tion be­cause there are so many vari­able fac­tors.”

Hunter later ex­plained the “specialist tech­ni­cians “are “in­di­vid­u­als from Fortis B.C. who man­age the light­ing and en­sure it is a safe event.”

But a story pub­lished in The Tyee in 2010 and based on PavCo records con­tains fig­ures for the first postGames light­ing of the caul­dron, on Canada Day. For 13 hours of flames, Terasen sup­plied 98.9 gi­ga­joules of nat­u­ral gas, which works out to an aver­age of 7.6 gi­ga­joules per hour. The cost then was $492.13 plus taxes.

The cur­rent res­i­den­tial rate for nat­u­ral gas in the Lower Main­land is $9.69 per gi­ga­joule. A 2,300-square­foot home heated by nat­u­ral gas with a new, high-ef­fi­ciency fur­nace would use 51 gi­ga­joules and cost $523 a year to sup­ply.

It’s un­clear if the 2010 costs in­cluded the “specialist tech­ni­cians” and se­cu­rity that now have bumped the caul­dron cost to the cur­rent rate of $5,000 for four hours.

The caul­dron was cre­ated by gas com­pany Terasen in part­ner­ship with the Van­cou­ver Olympic Or­ga­niz­ing Com­mit­tee and then handed over to the Van­cou­ver Con­ven­tion Cen­tre, which is run by PavCo.

Terasen was taken over by Fortis, which doesn’t give out pri­vate in­for­ma­tion such as how much its cus­tomers are spend­ing to burn an Olympic caul­dron.



People gath­ered to watch the Olympic Caul­dron in down­town Van­cou­ver as it was re­lit Wed­nes­day night.

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