District energy is a system that provides heat and/or cooling to more than one building. In Kelowna, a district energy system could include:
- hot water to heat space and water in buildings
- using the temperature differences in renewable source from water (lake, waste heat in water from industry and wastewater treatment plant) or earth (geo-exchange)
- using heat pumps to augment the temperatures
- possible natural gas or other combustion for peaking
Exploring District Energy
The City is committed to showing leadership in sustainable urban design through the development and use of renewable and low-impact utility systems including geothermal, solar and district energy systems. Examples of these types of projects include the Capital News Centre, the new Aquatic Centre, and retrofits to the Parkinson Recreation Centre pool. Institutional precedents for renewable energy have been established at the General Hospital, Okanagan College, UBC-Okanagan, and residential precedents include the geothermal system at the Wilden neighbourhood.
In addition, the capacities of utility systems in the downtown, especially electricity, are insufficient to address the anticipated demands. Given that redevelopment has only just begun and major investments in utility expansion are far from sufficient to accommodate growth, this is a good time to explore the feasibility of alternative energy supply and utility options and the development of an integrated energy system to serve the neighbourhood. The City owns a number of buildings in the area and as such may be the anchor customer for a District Energy/Utility System (DES) and is also in the position of encouraging the Developers to connect to a system as part of the rezoning process.
In 2010 pre-feasibility studies were completed by the Community Energy Association to establish baseline data and identify areas compatible for district energy. The benefits of district energy, options for ownership and potential timelines for future implementation were also explored. In 2010 staff proposed a more detailed feasibility study to determine if there was a business case for implementation. Fortis Energy Inc., working through the memorandum of understanding established in August 2010 has determined that the Kelowna City Center – Urban Center area is viable in the near term and that the Pandosy Center area may be feasible in the future. Fortis Energy Inc. have established a customer base for the downtown area, including the City, for a Phase 1 project which would see a $24 million capital investment by Fortis Energy Inc.
Currently the Kelowna City Centre – District Energy System (DES) feasibility study has resulted in an “Interim Agreement” between the City and Fortis Energy Inc. Fortis Energy Inc. currently has an application in front of the British Columbia Utility Commission for a “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” and is seeking approval for a “Rate Design and Rates to Provide Thermal Energy Services”. Contingent upon approval from British Columbia Utility Commission and a successful negotiation between Fortis Energy Inc. and the City towards a “Definitive Operating Agreement”, construction of the Downtown District Energy System could begin later in 2013.