From The Nugget, by Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles;
North Bay will be home to a $4.5-million electrical micro grid that will connect Memorial Gardens, the YMCA, aquatic centre and Thomson Park.
The news was announced Friday by Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault, North Bay Hydro chief executive officer Todd Wilcox and Mayor Al McDonald.
The project is expected to reduce the city’s energy costs. As well, it will provide more than $100,000 in heating cost savings at Memorial Gardens and the pool at the YMCA.
The grid, which will be located between Memorial Gardens and the YMCA, will generate about 87 per cent of electricity on site.
According to North Bay Hydro, the micro grid will be self-sufficient because it will generate its own electricity from solar panels and natural gas-powered co-generation.
A large-scale battery will store unused electricity.
The province is contributing $1 million toward the project.
McDonald said the city could be asked to pay $300,000 toward the project. However, that will be a council decision.
“Even if it’s a $200,000 request to the City of North Bay, we’re going to recoup costs in two years and save taxpayers money down the road in operating costs,” he said.
“It also makes North Bay Hydro a stronger company. The fact the province is coming to the table with a lot of this money and private-sector investors are part of this project really makes it a solid project.”
Wilcox said he hopes to break ground this year.
At present, all four facilities – Memorial Gardens, The YMCA, aquatic centre and Thomson Park – have different electrical services, he said.
“So what we’re going to do is eliminate that and put in a micro grid and connect them all,” Wilcox said. “Attached to the micro grid we’re going to put a solar PV generation onto the aquatic centre roof. We will put a co-generation plant in between the arena and the aquatic centre and that will supply energy to the micro grid. The waste heat will be used to warm the pool and heat the arena.”
Wilcox said the aquatic centre and Memorial Gardens have a pretty significant heat load.
“The pool has to be heated year round. If you put in a co-generation facility, you get high use of that waste heat which makes a project extremely viable. So you need that heat load to make these projects viable.”
Wilcox said the system will provide 80 per cent of the heat needed for the two facilities.