The District of Sicamous is investigating ways to harness waste wood as a clean energy source. (File photo)

Sicamous takes a look at wood-waste energy

Report favours heating system that could service rec centre, Parkview Elementary and others

Sicamous is looking into using wood waste to heat buildings and maybe even generate electricity.

At their meeting on April 11, the Sicamous council adopted a bioenergy opportunity report and directed district staff to look into federal funding through the clean energy for remote and rural communities program.

In the spring of 2017, the district commissioned Urban Systems, an engineering, environmental science and urban design firm to investigate the feasibility of bringing a community renewable energy source to the district.

The report details two possible options, a district heating system located near Finlayson Park and a combined heat and power facility in the industrial park.

The proposed site in the industrial park is directly across the road from the B.C. Hydro substation. According to the report, the location is potentially optimal for an electricity-generating facility. A biomass-burning heat and power facility at that location could also provide heat to the existing Twin Anchors facility and also any buildings in the industrial park constructed in the future.

The second option, a district heating system that would not generate electricity, could provide heat for the nearby shopping centre, Parkview Elementary, Parkland Building Supplies and the rec centre. The report states the curling club could also be connected to the heating system, but because of the high costs of connecting and retrofitting the building and its low and seasonal heat use, it was not included in Urban Systems’ analysis.

An alternative heating system would be helpful for the area near Finlayson Park – according to the report, the rec centre alone spends $40,000 per year on propane and $60,000 on electricity.

The report states the district heating system is more immediately feasible than the combined heat and power facility in the industrial park. It says both projects are potentially financially viable, but that the users for the heating-only system already exist while the facility in the industrial park relies on buildings that have not been constructed yet in order to be financially viable.

“If developers show interest in developments in the area, a more detailed feasibility assessment should be conducted. This would include understanding building uses and heating demands,” the report reads.

Wood heating pellets and other sources would be an affordable fuel source that the report says are plentiful in the area due to the active forestry operations in the region.

Three bulk suppliers of heating pellets located within 100 kilometres of Sicamous are identified in the report: Tolko Industry Ltd. in Kamloops, Pinnacle Pellet’s Armstrong facility and the Adams Lake sawmill. It acknowledged there may be other smaller suppliers as well.

The district will seek funding for a biomass project through the clean energy for rural and remote communities program, a federal funding source that supports projects which reduce fossil fuel use.

“We’re trying to find some serious capital money. This is a very good federal program and I believe it will be under-subscribed, there’s just a lot of communities that won’t pursue this because of the work involved and the complexity,” town manager Evan Parliament said of the clean energy program.

Parliament added the program is designed to help rural communities which are not serviced with natural gas, and Sicamous fits the bill.

Urban Systems has been invited to May 9 council meeting to field questions on the project.

Fortis B.C. is also invited to the meeting.

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