The power of local hydro is on full display in North Bay as three large recreational facilities in the city will receive most of their heat and electricity through a new microgrid, a project announced this August. The new microgrid, called Community Energy Park, will provide reliable and cost-effective electricity to the YMCA, Aquatic Centre and Memorial Gardens, home of the Ontario Hockey League’s North Bay Battalion. North Bay Hydro – under the leadership of President and Chief Operating Officer Todd Wilcox – has recently broken ground on its Community Energy Park. Once operational, solar panels, natural gas-powered co-generation and a large-scale battery for unused energy will cover 80 per cent of the community organization’s energy needs. This will be the largest microgrid in Canada, a project made possible by the community’s local distribution company.
This Community Energy Park will allow the three facilities to have self-sustaining power and heat in times of emergencies. As such vital community centres in North Bay – these new abilities are invaluable in an environment with unpredictable weather.
The Community Energy Park is part of a surge of technology that helps customers save on their electricity bills and provide them with greater control over their energy use. Todd Wilcox explains, “The benefit to North Bay Hydro is giving customers confidence that they can take control of their energy costs. They don’t have to feel like they’re victims. This technology is on the cusp, it’s coming. We need to be familiar with it and how we can use it in our everyday lives.”
The project received funding from both the City of North Bay and the Ontario Government. North Bay Hydro expects costs to be recouped and ultimately generate savings for taxpayers with future decreases in operating costs due to new infrastructure.
Ontario’s Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault and North Bay Mayor Al McDonald were at the project announcement in May 2017.