The District of Sicamous is taking part in a project that could help create a plan for dealing with forest fuels in the area and possibly result in a green energy source for the community.
Sicamous is a partner community in a project funded by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions that will look at the potential of using biomass (fallen wood, beetle kill, etc.) from Crown land in the district’s interface areas for heating fuel.
The benefits for the community are, potentially, two-fold, according to district administrator Alan Harris. First, the project may assist the district in the completion of a Community Forests Area Protection plan for the mitigation of forest fire interface zone risk. This alone, says Harris, will save the district about $15,000, with the only cost to the district being roughly 12-hours of staff time. The second potential benefit, is the district could wind up with an alternate means of energy production. This could be used to power local facilities, while reducing the district’s carbon footprint. In turn, this would reduce or eliminate what the district would otherwise have to pay for carbon offsets, as per provincial requirements.
As an example, Harris pointed to Enderby and their setting up a community heating system using biomass. He said an Enderby company, Fink Machine Inc., which builds wood-heating systems, is working on an agreement with the city to heat the community’s pool.
“That is something this will look at – is there an opportunity with the biomass that potentially can be generated from around Sicamous – can it be used to put one of these systems in?”
In response to concerns about air quality, Harris noted that wood burning has no carbon footprint and, with modern woodpellet stoves, if they are operated properly, there should be little or no smoke. The district’s goal, he said, would be to get people to burn wood as opposed to oil and propane, which have a “huge carbon footprint.”
Coun. Don Richardson said he was familiar with a business that had purchased a heating system that utilizes biomass, and the problem they’ve run into is a lack of material. He noted that extraction of beetle kill is cost prohibitive.
“In the economics of things, it sounds really great, but will it work?” asked Richardson.
Harris said the project would look at everything involved.