Volume 92, Issue 68

Thursday, January 28, 1999


Helping out relief

New hydro plan could zap costs

Smuggling film closure

Students proactive about solution

Candidates address USC's student communication

Bigger not environmentally better

Hamill creates platform from all sides


New hydro plan could zap costs

By Mark Brown
Gazette Staff

Although Western will try to save money by cutting its electric bill, students will not be left studying in the dark.

Western's Property and Finance Committee will seek the Board of Governors' permission today to proceed with the final design stage and call tenders for the installation of a five megawatt co-generation system.

The project will cost an estimated $8 million if Western decides co-generation is economically feasible, said Dave Riddell, director of physical plant.

Co-generation, which employs a natural gas-fired turbine engine to generate electricity and uses the exhaust heat to produce steam, is currently being used by several Ontario universities as well as a number of large industries in London, including Labatt Brewing Company Limited and Casco Inc..

"We are just looking at ways to improve our costs," Riddell said. Early analysis of the project would allow the university to save between $1.3 million to $2.3 million per year from its current $4.4 million annual electric bill. The university would expect to use the savings to pay off the cost of the generator within five to 10 years, Riddell added.

"It's the up and coming technology," said Drew Jolliffe, shift engineer for Labatt. He added Labatt chose to use co-generation to supply most of its power because of an expected three to four year pay-back.

Still, there are some concerns associated with this type of venture. "Traditionally what happens in this industry is the economics change somewhere along the line," Jolliffe said.

Gary Rains, operation engineer for London Hydro, agreed and referred to the impending deregulation of the electric industry.

Currently the Ontario government is faced with a debt of $30 billion which could be offloaded onto the various power generators, Rains explained. He added a lot of facilities have been holding off on using this technology until they have a better understanding of the effects of deregulation.

The cost of tendering the project and re-evaluating its benefits are expected to amount to between $40,000 and $70,000, Riddell said. He added Western will re-evaluate the feasibility of the project once they hear back from some of the companies.

"If we find out our projections are off or if the capital costs are too high then we will back away from it," Riddell said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999