Baldy Hughes Therapeutic Community is a supportive recovery community catering to men suffering from addiction. This isolated residential treatment facility is located 45 minutes southwest of Prince George in a wilderness setting. The community provides residents with abstinence-based, long-term (one year) recovery support guided by therapeutic community principles. Operated by The BC New Hope Recovery Society, Baldy Hughes is inspired and modeled after the highly respected and world-renowned therapeutic community in San Patrignano, Italy.
Originally a remount station for the stage line that traveled the old Cariboo Wagon Road (circa 1862), Baldy Hughes Air Force Station opened on the site in 1955 and remained in operation until 1988. In late 2007, Baldy Hughes Therapeutic Community began operations on the site and it soon became apparent that meeting their heating requirements with the Cold-War era system in place would be costly - both in fixed monthly fuel costs and future carbon taxes. Originally an oil burning system that had later been converted to propane - greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were significant.
In response, the Society pursued funding for installation of a bioenergy heating system for the community. The Innovative Clean Energy Fund, Northern Development and Del-Tech Manufacturing Inc. jointly funded this $1.3 million project which replaced the high-cost carbon dioxide emitting propane boilers with a biomass system that utilizes wood pellets made from low-cost carbon-neutral wood by-products readily available in the area.
The new system came in to operation in October 2009 and has served the community well through two winters - significantly reducing the cost of heating this non-profit facility.
"Members of the Canadian wood pellet industry were delighted to learn about the proposed BC New Hope Recovery Society bioenergy project. This project will demonstrate the efficient and cost effective use of our vast bioenergy resource in north central BC. Small central heating and community district heating projects such as this one will serve as a great example for developing the market for bioenergy, and in this case BC wood pellet industry stakeholders."
John Swaan, Executive Director, Wood Pellet Association of Canada
"Being sustainable - economically, socially and ecologically - are important objectives for all communities and Baldy Hughes is no different. This project is an important step forward as we look to be the first community in Canada to be completely energy self-sufficient. It's gratifying to be a showcase in our province and help lead the way in environmentally sustainable community building and best practices. People will come from across North America and around the world to see this showcase example of the types of technologies being developed in northern BC."
Kevin England, former Chair, BC New Hope Recovery Society
Positive Economic Impacts in Baldy Hughes
The Baldy Hughes community heating system utilizes leading edge bioenergy technology that demonstrates on a community scale how biomass combustion can be used to replace carbon fuels. This technology is very relevant for many rural and remote communities that are relient on oil, propane, or diesel for heating and power. The project demonstrates the successful installation and operation of an institutional scale district heating project that is transportable, operational and available for viewing. It serves as an example of how biomass heating can be used as a model for district heating in BC's northern regions.
This project is supporting the development of a regional biomass energy sector. The project now serves as an operating showcase of a bioenergy fueled community district heating system. The facility continues to drive wood pellet demand locally from regional pellet manufacturers, is increasing the stability of pellet prices for local consumers, continues to reduce greenhouse gases at the facility and the community's carbon footprint, and is widening markets for un-merchantable timber. It will improve the ability of the Baldy Hughes Therapeutic Community to operate effectively by reducing their heating costs, thereby demonstrating the financial viability of biomass heating to other potential users. The system is highly efficient with an average loss of only three degrees by the end of the heating process.
Originally, it was estimated that the system would reduce the community's heating costs by appoximately sevety percent annually, however, the system has exceeded these expectations by reducing heating costs by severty five percent which equates to over $300,000 in annual savings over a five year period that can be used to support the operation of the Society.
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