There are companies lining up, wanting to have a crack at helping Edmonton build its district energy system for the redevelopment at Blatchford. And Mayor Don Iveson said federal and provincial carbon tax revenue could help get the job done.
“I’m really pleased that we got eight submissions to our request for interest from industry,” Mayor Iveson told reporters. “That includes a number of Alberta companies, energy companies who’s names you’d recognize, utility companies who’s names you’d recognize. I mean the city is not going to build this whole thing, finance this whole thing and run it ourselves, I don’t think. I think we’re going to need partners. The question is how to structure that partnership to achieve all the environmental and fiscal outcomes that we’re looking for.”
Iveson said the size and scope of the potential project is growing, hinting that the province is looking at putting a new heat plant in at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. “It’s an electricity and cooling plant. It also produces steam and domestic hot water for them.”
“There’s a giant energy centre going in just down the street at one of the most energy intensive facilities in the province. If we can tie that into district energy, that just improves the performance. If we can throw off heat when they need it, and they can throw off heat when the development needs it, that’s the advantage and efficiency of the sharing systems.”
Iveson said he’ll pursue carbon tax funding as he continues meetings with federal environment and climate change minister Catherine McKenna. “We had a really interesting conversation that I’m going to continue in Ottawa (today) about how the infrastructure bank could support green jobs, build infrastructure like district energy systems in order to create long term prosperity and achieve our climate goals at the same time.”
Reports indicate the Trudeau government is looking at tapping into billions of dollars in pension funds to help stimulate investment in infrastructure. “Like you’d find in a Canadian public sector pension fund,” Iveson said, “connecting those kinds of investors with opportunities like building the district energy system at Blatchford for example, or financing it. It’s really exciting. If the feds can create a regulatory environment and some incentives to make the numbers work for everybody, that may be way cheaper than big upfront grants.”
Members of council’s executive committee heard that the goal is to begin breaking ground at Blatchford on the district energy system in the spring.