August 7-14, 2006

GMF grants help western communities embark on innovative projects

Aquatera Utilities, in Grande Prairie, Alberta, is receiving a $95,000 Green Municipal Fund (GMF) grant to undertake the business development work required to establish a community energy system (CES) in Grande Prairie. The work, based on a previously funded GMF feasibility study, includes securing access to the heat source; establishing a business model to build, market, and operate the district heating system; and developing a marketing strategy to attract potential customers.

"The benefits of a CES include reduced greenhouse gas emissions, conservation of valuable natural gas, local energy security, and local job creation," said Grande Prairie Mayor Wayne Ayling. "Completion of this project will let us implement a full-scale CES. It will be capable of distributing heat to approximately 30 buildings - including public municipal and provincial facilities, schools, and the hospital - located close to the heat source, a recently completed biomass-fuelled combined heat and power (CHP) plant owned by Canadian Gas & Electric."

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) manages the $550-million GMF on behalf of the federal government. The Fund supports partnerships and leveraging of both public and private sector funding for projects designed to improve air, water and soil quality, and address climate protection.

"By providing heat for non-industrial buildings from a central source based on biomass-fuelled CHP, this project represents innovation in adopting an advanced technology new to the region for this application," said county reeve Tim Stone, representing FCM's national board of directors. "Without the CES," he added, "it would not be practical for the buildings to use biomass or CHP as a source of energy due to the small scale and difficulties in operating and maintaining such equipment over the long-term."

"Aquatera Utilities Inc. is very pleased to be developing this service opportunity, with the assistance of FVB Energy Inc, for the city of Grande Prairie, Aquatera's majority shareholder," said Mark Simpson, the company's operations co-ordinator. "As the first regional utility corporation in Alberta, Aquatera symbolizes a fresh approach to conservation and innovation," he added.

In British Columbia, meanwhile, the District of 100 Mile House has been awarded a $60,000 GMF grant to help the district develop a long-term, action-oriented Sustainable Community Servicing Plan (SCSP) to improve the sustainability of the community's infrastructure.

"The SCSP will provide our District with a 20-year plan for capital and operational investment that will consider both growth-related investment and the renewal/rehabilitation of existing infrastructure, including the management of transportation, water, wastewater, and storm drainage systems," said district Mayor Donna Barnett. "The innovative use of geographic information system technology will be employed to evaluate a wide variety of scenarios. This will enable us to achieve multiple objectives in a cost-effective manner," she noted.

"The SCSP will reflect a broad triple bottom-line approach to community servicing with substantial environmental benefits," observed Hans Cunningham, FCM vice-president-at-large.

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