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City to look at potential energy expansion

By Don Fennell

Published 11:15 PDT, Fri August 16, 2019

A major new district energy project may be in the works for Richmond.

A major new district energy project may be in the works for Richmond.

Pending approval by city council, the Lulu Island Energy Company will join forces with the Canada Infrastructure Bank on an initiative to expand the city’s current district energy systems from 330,000 square meters (3.6 million square feet) to more than 4.7 million square metres (50 million square feet) over an extended timeline.

An important component of Richmond’s community planning, district energy systems provide sustainable and economic energy sources, says Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie.

“Partnering with Canada Infrastructure Bank on our City Centre district energy utility is an excellent opportunity to further our energy efficiency and resiliency for many years to come,” he says.

Brodie notes the city has received international recognition for its leadership in developing district energy systems designed to reduce carbon emissions, while delivering an affordable and reliable heating and cooling source for thousands of residents, commercial and institutional users.

A memorandum of understanding was signed Thursday, Aug. 1 between the Lulu Island Energy Company and Canada Infrastructure Bank formalizing their collaboration. This is the bank’s first opportunity to partner on a project in B.C.

“District energy is aligned with federal government and CIB priorities to invest in green infrastructure and there is potential for this project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Pierre Lavalee, president and CEO of Canada Infrastructure Bank. “This is a tremendous opportunity for CIB to expand work with an innovative municipality and develop a project that can combine both public and institutional investment.”

Francois-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s federal minister of infrastructure and communities, says the Canada Infrastructure Bank is playing a leading role in new infrastructure projects that have a positive impact on the environment and on communities.

“The CIB’s infrastructure expertise and its advisory function will be crucial to this partnership with Lulu Island Energy Company and the City of Richmond,” he says.

CIB is focused on transformational projects that are in the public interest including green infrastructure. As a Crown corporation, it is mandated to use $35 billion in federal funding to attract private sector and institutional investment to new revenue-generating infrastructure projects.

A municipal corporation wholly-owned by the City of Richmond, Lulu Island Energy Company was established to implement and operate district energy utility systems. City officials saw the benefits of district energy in meeting sustainability goals within its Community Energy and Emissions Plan and implemented three district energy utilities: the multi-award winning Alexandra; Oval Village (which services the waterfront community around the world-renowned Richmond Olympic Oval); and the City Centre. Canada Infrastructure Bank has specialized infrastructure expertise and this project is consistent with its mandate to advise on and potentially invest in green infrastructure projects that are in the public interest.

The City of Richmond’s official plan calls for higher density and mixed use buildings in future residential and commercial development. As a result, the city will benefit from low carbon energy sources on an expedited basis that would provide heating and cooling to buildings in the region. Lulu Island

Energy Company’s district energy system will use zero-carbon sewer heat recovery technology to extract heat from the local sewer force main once the system is fully built out.

The memorandum of understanding confirms Canada Infrastructure Bank and Lulu Island Energy Company will conduct further due diligence and financial structuring work regarding a potential new district energy system concession agreement with Corix Utilities, a leading provider of sustainable energy and environmental management solutions across Canada, the U.S. Lulu Island Energy Company and Corix Utilities are currently developing the Oval Village District Energy system, where Corix is responsible for the design, construction, financing, operations and maintenance of the system, while the City of Richmond is regulating and setting rates for customers.

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