Penticton to ponder partnership for green energy facility

Green energy pitch to city

The City of Penticton is exploring the possible construction of a green solar hydrogen production plant for use as an energy source.

Frontenac Energy is pitching its technology to the city as a partnership, hoping to open a facility in the district. They use aluminum and water through their proprietary process to create electricity through heat and hydrogen gas.

"This is very new for the natural gas industry. It is being done in other parts of North America at this time, but we'll probably be the first [facility of its kind] in Western Canada if we do it here," Frontenac VP of Business Development Steve Neill told city council at Tuesday's meeting.

Initially, the facility could provide 1 megawatt of power (enough for roughly 1,000 people) to the Penticton grid, which could be scaled up in the future, sold at a rate of $0.054/kwh, even during peak times — a potential for savings, Frontenac says, as currently FortisBC charges the city higher rates during those hours of the day.

Frontenac would also share part of the revenue from carbon credits with the City of Penticton as well.

The process also produces high-pressure steam that could be used for heating purposes at city facilities. By-products include clean water and benign aluminum oxide, the latter of which Frontenac would be recycling and re-selling to smelters.

"We don't landfill anything," said David White, Frontenac CEO and founder said.

"Think of Frontenac as a gas station and a power producer. Very low environmental impact, close to where the consumers would use the product. I think everybody would like to see the world move closer to a cleaner energy source."

All aluminum used would be provided by the community and nearby communities, everything from aluminum pop or beer cans from the community to aluminum siding.

"Our fuel is in the local area and we just buy it and repurpose it," White explained.

"Our solution is cost competitive. We will be able to go toe to toe with fossil fuels on price. So we will stand on our own two feet as a business.We are a small company but we are good at what we do. 100 per cent Canadian owned and we're very excited to get going here in Penticton."

Frontenac representatives said many of the team members live in the Okanagan Valley, leading to the decision to pursue Penticton as their flagship. Also, Penticton is fairly unique in the province in a key way.

"It's a lot easier to deal with a community that has their own electrical utility for buying the electrical power. And in British Columbia there's only about a handful of communities like Penticton that have that ability, so it just made things a lot easier for us to deal with you as well," Neill explained.

If eventual development permits are approved by council, they anticipate an 18-month construction process. Frontenac also noted the project would come with 15-20 jobs for locals, and potential for partnership with the Penticton Okanagan College campus.

Coun. Judy Sentes pointed out at the end of Frontenac's presentation that they are not a registered company in B.C., asking when that will happen, as it adds to credibility.

"My apologies. We should have probably done it before this," White said in answer, adding they plan to register in September.

"We have spent a lot of the summer securing all our equity. So that's been our focus, which we've completed. So now we have the term sheet in hand and we have the money."

Council received the presentation for information only at this time and will be discussing the matter in more detail at future meetings.

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