Readers may have noticed a District of Peachland advertisement calling for proposals from qualified consultants to carry out a Renewable Energy Opportunities study.
This study, fully funded by a $36,000 Gas Tax grant from the Province, will provide a high-level overview of the scope we have in Peachland for producing renewable energy through technology investment and/or by exploiting opportunities for effective design of energy supply systems in new and existing developments.
There are three separate but related questions that the study will address: is it economically feasible for Peachland to generate power from renewable energy sources so as to i) reduce the cost of acquiring energy; ii) generate revenue from the sale of district energy; and iii) reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Renewable energy sources include hydro-electric generation, solar power, wind power, bio-mass furnace systems and geo-thermal technology.
Many municipalities in BC and elsewhere in Canada are exploring, or have implemented, district energy systems, utilizing renewable energy resources available to them. For example the town of Okotoks in Alberta, has a large segment of the community where solar power is used to generate and store energy during summer months for later use in winter for home heating. Closer to home, the District of Lake Country generates electricity from a hydro-electric plant and sells the energy to BC Hydro creating revenue in excess of $200,000 per year. In Sweden and in other parts of Europe, whole cities are supplied by energy derived from renewable sources.
So, what are the possibilities in Peachland? It perhaps goes without saying that renewable energy systems only make sense if there is an early and continuing return on investment – a reality that makes many single home domestic applications problematic at this time. However, on a district scale the economics are different and in Peachland we have some interesting natural assets: significant amounts of sunshine; rapid water flows from Trepanier creek and Deep creek; the lake at our doorstep; wind power potential; and yard waste for bio mass, all combined with much new development.
There is, in addition, another possible source of energy should a recently proposed water master plan option prove to be viable. Currently, our water master plan calls for the creation of a $14 million water treatment plant: a measure that is necessary to meet the stringent water quality standards established by health authority legislation. However, if as is now being examined, we were to pipe our drinking water directly from Peachland lake (rather than allow it to flow above ground prior to chlorination and distribution) then, such pipe-protected water can discharge to an ultra-violet treatment facility, possibly achieving the required water quality standards at a much lower cost than through building a water filtration plant.
The viability of the piped water option is currently being investigated, and while the option is of interest in its own right, the captured pipe water may well provide yet another possible source for generation of hydro-electric power. Given all of these possibilities, it is important that we have a solid understanding of the potential for a community energy generation and a strategy for future development.
Community representatives serving on the Mayor’s Task Force on Climate Change are engaged with all aspects of the Renewable Energy Opportunities study and we look forward to reporting further on the results of the project when the contract has been issued and the work completed.
I am always pleased to respond to questions, ideas, and comments from residents and can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org