WMC to get an en­ergy over­haul cour­tesy of co­gen­er­a­tion project

Coun­cil ap­proves $1.5-mil­lion project in­tended to sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce op­er­at­ing costs over 20-year term

The Woolwich Observer - - FRONT PAGE - STEVE KANNON

LOOK­ING TO RE­DUCE SOARING op­er­at­ing and main­te­nance costs at the Woolwich Memo­rial Cen­tre, the town­ship will in­stall heat-and-en­ergy co­gen­er­a­tion equip­ment in the fa­cil­ity, along with a geo­ther­mal sys­tem for cool­ing and heat­ing.

The $1.5-mil­lion project, to be fi­nanced largely through en­ergy cost sav­ings over the next 20 years, was ap­proved this week by Woolwich coun­cil.

The plan calls for what’s known as a com­bined heat and power (CHP) sys­tem, which gen­er­ates elec­tric­ity and cap­tures the heat that would oth­er­wise be wasted to pro­vide use­ful ther­mal en­ergy, such as steam or hot wa­ter, that can be used for space heat­ing, cool­ing, do­mes­tic hot wa­ter and in­dus­trial pro­cesses, says a re­port pre­sented to coun­cil.

The tech­nol­ogy will essen­tially in­crease the use of nat­u­ral gas to gen­er­ate both heat and elec­tric­ity, pro­vid­ing a net sav­ings in hy­dro costs. An ex­tra $20,000 a year in nat­u­ral gas ex­penses will re­sult in sav­ings of $58,000 an­nu­ally due to what are cur­rently much cheaper gas costs, said di­rec­tor of fi­nance Richard Peth­er­ick.

With a pay­back pe­riod of 20 years, the town­ship pre­dicts it will save some $829,000 in en­ergy costs over the life of the deal. In­di­rect sav­ings are also ex­pected due to re­duced main­te­nance costs on the build­ing’s ex­ist­ing boiler.

The project is the lat­est move to tackle is­sues that have plagued the build­ing since its open­ing in 2009. The year af­ter the WMC went into oper­a­tion, the re­cre­ation de­part­ment ex­ceeded its bud­get by $550,000, or 14.6 per cent, largely due to high­erthan-ex­pected costs at the new multi-use fa­cil­ity in

Elmira.

The town­ship has dealt with a num­ber of de­fi­cien­cies, main­te­nance woes and high op­er­at­ing costs since day-one, many of them the re­sult of cost­cut­ting mea­sures im­posed as the cost of build­ing the fa­cil­ity in­creased from a $12-mil­lion bud­get when a new arena was first pro­posed to about twice that by the time it was com­pleted. Mea­sures have in­cluded re­plac­ing much of the light­ing in the build­ing, for ex­am­ple.

In dis­cussing the CHP project Tues­day night, Coun. Mark Bau­man noted the re­port calls for the re­place­ment of the re­frig­er­a­tion plant that pro­vides ice in the are­nas and the re­place­ment of the lights in the McLeod Arena, ques­tion­ing whether the price tag in­cluded those money-sav­ing moves.

Peth­er­ick re­sponded, how­ever, that those steps have been ear­marked for a later date when the bud­get al­lows.

The re­frig­er­a­tion plant has been a sore spot since the build­ing opened, re­quir­ing heavy main­te­nance and re­pair costs early and of­ten, to go along with high op­er­at­ing costs from the start. The prob­lems have been com­pounded by the fact the man­u­fac­turer of the sys­tem has since gone out of busi­ness.

Given the state of the nine-year-old build­ing’s in­fra­struc­ture, coun­cil­lors were quick to en­dorse a plan that would help rein in costs.

“This is def­i­nitely needed at the WMC,” said Coun. Patrick Mer­li­han. “The pay­ment plan works for us.”

In­cluded in the project cost is a grant of $255,000 pro­vided by the In­de­pen­dent Elec­tric­ity Sys­tem Op­er­a­tor through Water­loo North Hy­dro. The work it­self, to be car­ried out be­fore the end of 2020 un­der the terms of the grant, will be un­der­taken by Grand River En­ergy, a new ven­ture launched by hold­ing com­pa­nies of the re­gion’s three elec­tri­cal util­i­ties, Water­loo North Hy­dro, Kitch­ener Wil­mot Hy­dro and En­ergy+, which are in turn owned by the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

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