FortisBC to deliver thermal energy to schools within Delta School District

New system delivers energy savings and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 70 per cent

SURREY, BC, Oct. 1, 2012 /CNW/ - FortisBC has broken ground to build systems that will allow the delivery of thermal energy to 19 educational buildings in School District 37 Delta School District.

The $6.4 million investment into the thermal energy production facilities was developed between FortisBC, the Delta School District and the B.C. Ministry of Environment with the goal of delivering efficient thermal energy (cooling and heating) to the buildings within Delta School District. The facilities will use geoexchange systems and high efficiency natural gas boilers.

"At the Delta School District, we respect the environment and work hard to lower our carbon footprint," said Dale Saip, Board chair with the Delta School District.  "For many years, we have taken a proactive role in environmental stewardship."

The FortisBC project will have a significant impact on lowering both energy consumption and carbon emissions of the Delta School District. An estimated 45 per cent reduction in energy usage, equivalent to enough natural gas to heat about 365 homes for one year. Greenhouse gas emissions in the Delta School District are expected to drop by 69 per cent as a result of this initiative; this is equivalent to the removal of almost 450 cars from the road annually.

In addition to the environmental benefits, the project is expected to save the Delta School District significant money. The province's mandate that all public sector organizations be carbon neutral has resulted in the school district having to purchase carbon offsets to the tune of $100,000 a year. The FortisBC project will eliminate the need to purchase these offsets. These savings, combined with substantial cost savings from reduced natural gas usage, means the Delta School District expects to save $180,000 a year through this initiative. Not only will this free up funds for education but it will be an incredible learning opportunity for the students.

A grant through the Public Sector Energy Conservation Agreement (PSECA) provided assistance to the Delta School District project with an investment of $1.4 million.

"British Columbia's green economy is introducing innovations that are good for our planet and for our economic future. This thermal energy project is an excellent example of how the B.C. Government is working with our partners to foster the innovation we need to keep our province at the forefront," said John Yap, Minister of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology and Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism.

FortisBC has been working with the Delta School District since 2009 to develop this energy solution. Earlier this spring, the project received the green light with the approval of the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC). FortisBC will build, own and maintain the thermal energy infrastructure while the Delta School District will pay a BCUC regulated rate for the thermal energy. The terms also state that FortisBC will operate and provide all emergency and customer support for the systems.

"This project marks a win-win for all collaborators by providing quality, efficient energy and also showing the possibilities of sustainable thermal energy solutions within British Columbia," said Doug Stout, vice president of energy solutions and external relations, FortisBC.

Construction of the thermal energy system has begun and should be operational by 2014. Geoexchange heating and cooling is done through the use of ground source heat pumps, which work by transferring underground heat and circulating it through a building. This project also builds upon efforts by FortisBC and the District to upgrade natural gas boilers with more modern, high efficiency units. More specifically, this project includes the replacement of eight conventional boilers with high efficiency boilers, the conversion of existing thermal plants to geoexchange systems with peaking gas boilers at 11 sites, and retrofit/replacement of existing mechanical infrastructure at all 19 sites to accept the new technologies.

In keeping with its vision of efficient energy, Delta School District has also taken other steps to make sure the benefits of this new system will be maximized.

"Facilities are being constructed, renovated and retrofitted with energy conservation in mind, including solar hot water systems and state-of-the-art energy consumption monitoring. A number of other initiatives have also been implemented to do our part in making our operations more efficient," said Frank Geyer, director of facilities and planning with the Delta School District.

FortisBC provides energy solutions using district energy and geoexchange. To find out more, visit fortisbc.com.

FortisBC is a regulated utility focused on providing safe and reliable energy, including natural gas, electricity, propane and thermal energy solutions. FortisBC employs more than 2,300 British Columbians and serves approximately 1.1 million customers in more than 135 B.C. communities. FortisBC is indirectly wholly owned by Fortis Inc., the largest investor-owned distribution utility in Canada. FortisBC owns and operates four regulated hydroelectric generating plants, approximately 7,000 kilometres of transmission and distribution power lines and approximately 47,000 kilometres of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines. FortisBC Inc., FortisBC Energy Inc., FortisBC Energy (Vancouver Island) Inc., and FortisBC Energy (Whistler) Inc. do business as FortisBC. Fortis Inc. shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and trade under the symbol FTS. Additional information can be accessed at www.fortisinc.com or www.sedar.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The media are invited to take a tour of the construction with representatives from FortisBC and the Delta School District. The event will take place on October 1, 2012, 11 a.m. at Neilson Grove Elementary School, 5500 Admiral Boulevard, Delta.

Backgrounder

The FortisBC and Delta School District project involves the gradual replacement of conventional natural gas boilers with a combination of high efficiency natural gas boilers and ground source heat pumps. The ground source heat pumps will provide the geoexchange component of the project.

Delta School District project breakdown

High efficiency boiler upgrades

  • Annieville Elementary School
  • Beach Grove Elementary School
  • Chalmers Elementary School
  • Cliff Drive Elementary School
  • Heath Elementary School
  • Holy Elementary School
  • Ladner Elementary School
  • District Operations Centre

Geoexchange projects

  • Delta Secondary School
  • Delview Secondary School
  • English Bluff Elementary School
  • Neilson Grove Elementary School
  • North Delta Secondary School
  • Pinewood Elementary School
  • Richardson Elementary School
  • South Delta Secondary School
  • South Park Elementary School
  • Board of Education Office
  • Delta Manor Education Office

SOURCE: FortisBC

For further information:

Media contact:
Deneka Michaud
Manager of Communications
Delta School District
Phone: 604-952-5397

Michael Allison
Corporate Communications Advisor
Phone: 604-592-7536
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