Energy loop installation going in circles

The Strathcona Gardens Commission approved awarding construction of an energy loop

The installation of an innovative heating system for Strathcona Gardens is still waiting to get underway.

The Strathcona Gardens Commission approved awarding construction of an energy loop to a Victoria company in August but construction is yet to begin on the heat exchange system.

The energy loop is designed to take excess waste energy produced in the Strathcona Garden’s compressor room and use it to heat the pool.

Russ Hotsenpiller, the Strathcona Regional District’s chief administrative officer, said while the pieces have been ordered and built, there are two outstanding issues.

One involves funding and the second is the project completion date. The regional district was awarded a grant from the Gas Tax Innovations Fund with the stipulation that the project must be completed by Dec. 31, 2013.

The regional district is trying to request an extension into early 2014 to accommodate the energy loop’s estimated completion date of Jan. 14, 2014.

Construction is expected to begin on the project within the next week.

Part of the hold up revolves around funding.

With a $299,750 grant from the Gas Tax Innovations Fund the project was said to be 100 per cent funded.

However, the project was awarded to Accent Refrigeration at a cost of $319,750 plus taxes – which was the lowest bid – and additional project costs for electrical, contingency and taxes has put the total project cost at $404,750.

That leaves the regional district with a $105,000 shortfall which Hotsenpiller said the Gas Tax fund cannot accommodate.

“Staff have made enquiries…and they have confirmed that the funding is over-subscribed and there is none available for the projected overruns associated with the Energy Loop project,” Hotsenpiller said in a report to the Strathcona Gardens Commission. “They did indicate however that this project, which is funded 100 per cent under the Innovations Fund umbrella, is Community Works Fund agreement eligible and that the SRD could stack one grant on top of another.”

That would required that the city and Area D (south of the city) dedicate its Community Works funds to the project.

Otherwise, Hotsenpiller said the $105,000 could be covered by the capital reserves account.

A decision was expected to be made at the Strathcona Gardens Commission directors’ meeting on Wednesday morning.