City drops geothermal heat idea

More traditional heating sources to be explored

Parksville council received a report back that a municipal geothermal heating utility would be technically feasible, but would not be financially worthwhile.

In late 2009, then mayor Ed Mayne proposed the city look into the possibility of establishing a utility.

Councillor Marc Lefebvre was enthusiastic, “It is like a hat trick, it hits all three, it’s renewable energy, it is cost effective and it reduces our carbon footprint.”

Sunrise Ridge Resort has an active geothermal plant in the city, they pointed out, so it is clearly possible.

Council eventually awarded Hemma Energy $8,905 to study the feasibility and received a $7,500 provincial Infrastructure Planning Grant towards it.

The study focused on the possibility of installing geothermal exchanges as pilot projects in two proposed residential developments on Despard Avenue and Cedar Ridge on Renz Road.

They studied the expected energy demands, geologic conditions, compared various heating systems and analyzed the costs.

They concluded closed-loop vertical ground heat exchangers, like those at Sunrise Ridge, would have high capital costs which would be offset by long-term savings.

The installation would cost $1.8 million for the Despard site and $3.2 million for Cedar Ridge, breaking even financially in 19.2 and 14.5 years, respectively.

The summary of the report from Bob Harari, director of engineering and operations, concludes the city should, “no longer pursue a geothermal public utility unless and until … there may be financial benefit to the community,” and that the city “allow, but not require, any residential development to provide geoexchange units…”

“It makes very little sense to go forward on a city-wide basis,” he told council.

Council voted unanimously in favour of the recommendations, with Councillor Al Greir absent.