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Combined Heat & Power Program Saves Money for Building Owners

Atco Gas has launched a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) program that is aimed to help building owners reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut operating costs. The program is aimed for small to medium sized commercial, institutional, government and multi-unit residential buildings and could reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 25, 000 tonnes by 2020.

Building owners that qualify won’t have to pay for the improvements as the utility will install, own and maintain all the new CHP units. One third of the funding for this project is coming from the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation, which supports projects that reduce emissions and help Alberta adapt to climate change.

How do they work? CHP units use natural gas to generate heat and electricity at the same time. With each facility being able to generate electricity on-site, and using waste-heat recovery, they will be able to reduce operating costs by increasing energy efficiency overall. They could then take this a step further to use an effective Smart Energy company to assist with more reductions.

Wayne Morishita, director of marketing and sales for Atco gas told the Edmonton Journal that they are trying to stimulate the market, create awareness for the program and get more building owners thinking about using CHP. Once the project gains momentum it is predicted that the cost of these CHP units will come down making it possible for customers to use the technology without additional funding.

“This is a great initiative!” commented Chris Vilcsak, Owner and CEO of Solution 105. “We are working with two companies that are installing co-generation projects like this, but owning and operating it themselves without joining the Atco project. In short, this technology makes sense!”

The first two projects under the Atco CHP program are underway at a Red Deer leisure centre and Calgary Seniors Residence. Atco predicts that the 250,000 square foot centre in Red Deer will save nearly $35,000 per year in energy costs as a result of the project, reducing demand of electricity by about 2 million kWh each year. The technology is expected to save the seniors condo in Calgary about $28,000 a year reducing the building’s demand on electricity from the grid by at least one million kWh per year.

“It will be interesting to see how many firms want to bring in ATCO to own and operate projects like this versus putting them in themselves. I like what they’re doing but here is some food for thought: Maybe we should approach the province to do the same thing but allow the building owner to retain the benefits?” asks Vilcsak.

What do you think?

Read the full article in the Edmonton Journal.