Roger Sutton in charge of first district energy scheme in Christchurch rebuild
Christchurch's post-quake ambition was to create a super efficient district energy scheme for the CBD, but it went nowhere.
Now, former Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) boss Roger Sutton is in charge and the plan has been rekindled.
On Thursday, Sutton showed off the $2 million first phase of the scheme at Ngai Tahu's new Pita Te Hori Centre across from the Christchurch City Council headquarters. It relies mainly on an underground aquifer as an energy source.
Sutton is looking for new partners to create renewable energy hubs and eventually a central city-wide network to provide heating, space heating and air conditioning to new buildings .
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It could be 10 times larger within five years, he said, acknowledging that was "ambitious".
Thursday marked Sutton's return to the public eye since he was ousted as chief executive of Cera in 2014.
He had stayed in Christchurch, becoming a consultant, director and trustee on the Anglican diocese's Church Property Trustees.
The former chief of lines company Orion said he was happy, often rode his bike and had bought an electric car. He was pleased to be working in his old field.
He had been the general manager of the Christchurch District Energy Scheme for about five months. Ngai Tahu put its scheme together before he arrived.
His job now is to expand the scheme, backed by joint venture owners Pioneer Energy of Otago and Engie, a French energy conglomerate that manages about 300 district energy schemes globally. Pioneer runs schemes in Dunedin and Timaru.
Ngai Tahu had outsourced its heating and cooling to the joint venture.
"The bigger they are, the more efficient they are," said Didier Holleaux, an Engie vice president who toured the city on Thursday.
District energy schemes featured in Cera's 100-day blueprint for the central city earthquake rebuild. The city council created an agency to facilitate them and offered sizeable grants to developers.
Rich-lister Antony Gough took a $300,000 grant to make his Terrace development energy efficient. The Arts Centre also got a grant. But they were standalone projects, not schemes that crossed streets and created districts.
The council struggled to give away the cash as private developers and the pubic sector went their own way.
The city "missed an opportunity" when the Bus Interchange was not included in a scheme, Pioneer chief executive Fraser Jonker said.
Mayor Lianne Dalziel said she was "heartbroken" when Christchurch Hospital departed the scheme and invested in a coal burner instead.
She was targeting the metro sports facility, the convention centre and the cental library. Sutton was talking with Crown company Otakaro Ltd about the convention centre.
The scheme "saves winter energy and that's what we're really short of in this country", Sutton said.