Edmonton company receives $1.2M to build groundbreaking project

Patricia Kozicka, Global News: Friday, May 25, 2012

EDMONTON – The federal government is helping fund a ‘green’ project in Edmonton which will be the first of its kind in Canada. It’s a natural gas plant that will be used not only to create electricity, but also to heat a housing complex being redeveloped in the Hazeldean neighborhood near 96 St. and 67 Ave.

The way the plant will work is by burning natural gas to creative electricity. Excess heat created from the process will then be pumped into the ground, and, eventually, drawn back out to keep the homes warm in the wintertime.

“So effectively, you replace bringing power through overhead power lines and you replace coal-burning power plants, and you actually reduce both the power and heating bills… the real challenge is the up-front cost,” explains Greg Christenson of Christenson Developments – the company behind the project.

Thankfully for Christiensen, that’s where the federal government has come in. On Friday, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver announced half the project’s $2.4 million dollar cost will be covered through the federal clean energy fund.

It’s a contribution Christenson says is very important to making the project a reality.

“It’s difficult to put $2.4 million into your budget (upfront) and explain that your utility cost may be lower,” Christenson says.

He believes the “natural gas-fuelled, co-generation and geothermal system” will be able to cut monthly utility bills by about 40 percent – making living more affordable for residents.

And the timing couldn’t be better.

“Power rates have historically been very high in Alberta. Natural gas rates are very low so it’s sort of a perfect storm for this type of technology,” Christenson says.

Mike Roppelt of GSS Geothermal is the one designing the heating plant, for which he has high hopes.

“There’s going to be a lot of study looking at the ability to replicate this be it a single family home or in the higher density homes,” he says.

Construction on the housing redevelopment project is supposed to be finished by early 2015.

With files from Fletcher Kent, Global News