Revelstoke Community Energy System

Revelstoke's Community Energy System provides the community with increased job security, improved air quality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and lower energy costs for customers.

The City of Revelstoke is home to the first district energy system in British Columbia using wood residue. Built in 2005, the system uses sawdust and hog fuel from the Downie sawmill to fuel a 1.5 MW biomass boiler. The boiler provides heat to several downtown buildings through a district hot oil loop, as well as steam to Downie’s drying kilns. The system provides energy rate stability to customers, improves air quality, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

The System

The Downie mill creates about 70,000 tonnes of wood residue annually, which had been incinerated in a beehive burner, a major source of the community’s air quality problems particularly during inversions. Various studies and plans in the 1990s pointed to a district heating system as a solution to both Downie’s wood residue disposal costs and the commmunity’s reliance on propane as a heating source.

Through the City’s subsidiary, the Revelstoke Community Energy Corporation (RCEC), agreements were negotiated with Downie to provide a 20 year supply of fuel at no cost, and steam for the mill’s kilns. Through 2.3 km of piping and heat exchangers, the system provides space heating for several commercial and institutional buildings, including a school, hotel, and community centre. The system operates close to capacity, and can be expanded.  Adding electricity generation may also be feasible in future.

Management & Finance

RCEC owns and operates the system. Financing was provided by a combination of loans, grants, and City investment. Total project cost was around $8 million, including $ 3 million for the heating plant. Funding sources included the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Green Municipal Fund, the Revelstoke Credit Union, and the City’s reserve funds and Community Forestry Corporation. Simple payback is estimated to be 13 years. Customers’ energy rates are indexed to the cost of living, and are no longer subject to the volatility of propane prices.

Environmental Benefits

By displacing propane, the Revelstoke system reduces 3400 to 3700 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, and particulate emissions are also reduced.

For Further Information

For more detailed information visit our resources (Under the ‘How’ Tab) of Integrated Resource Recovery:

Geoff Battersby,
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