In the push to go green for energy, the city is running into some roadblocks.
“I’m hoping one way or another we find a way to do this,” explained Councillor Ben Henderson, who also chairs the city’s Utility Committee.
The city has spent years and more than $2 million putting together a plan for a Downtown District Energy Initiative.
The plan calls for a central energy plant built on the property of the Winspear and then hooking up that building and nine others — including City Hall and the Edmonton Convention Centre — to the new green grid.
If the system is fully built out and adopted by private customers based downtown as well, it’s estimated emissions could be cut by the equivalent of taking nearly 20,000 passenger cars off the road.
A partnership with Calgary-based ENMAX is in place. The utility will actually build, own and operate the system.
City Hall politicians are relying on the company to secure the needed funding but so far, nothing — that leaves a $15.4-million funding gap.
“How the city responds to that funding gap down the road, whether or not we have to walk away cause it doesn’t make sense, I hope that’s not the case,” Henderson said.
Downtown isn’t the only place where there’s a request for green grants.
The city wants to secure just over $90 million to complete work on a green utility for the Blatchford Community.
In March, councillors debated ways to plug the gap should the grants not come through.
“It is not helping that we have to ask for both of them at the same time,” Henderson said.
“They’re both really important projects. They both move us forward in our greenhouse gas savings.”
Work continues to secure funding on both projects.
“We’ve been talking for this about a decade,” Henderson explained. “So, it would be nice to be able to move forward on it.”