A joint government project will use natural gas to power a number of buildings in Halifax, bringing a cleaner source of energy into the city and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The project was announced today, Nov. 24, by Cecil Clarke, Minister of Energy, Stéphane Dion, federal Minister of the Environment, John McCallum, Minister of National Revenue and Minister of Natural Resources Canada, and Peter Kelly, mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality. The federal and provincial ministers also announced three projects that will provide financial incentives to commercial and institutional building owners who convert to energy-efficient natural gas space and water-heating equipment. The overall cost of implementing the Community Energy System Project is estimated to be $47 million with the province of Nova Scotia and the government of Canada each committing up to $20 million. The project is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 128,000 tonnes per year in its first phase. The proposed system would generate electricity and provide heat and hot water using clean natural gas instead of traditionally used bunker C oil. Dalhousie University, Saint Mary’s University, the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre’s Victoria General and Halifax Infirmary complexes are potential anchor customers. Details of the cost-sharing arrangements by the federal, provincial and municipal partners will be worked out over the coming months, once negotiations with these key anchor customers are concluded and a business plan is finalized. “The Halifax district heating project is another way in which the government of Nova Scotia is demonstrating its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mr. Clarke. “This announcement is just the start of a list of items we want to advance on climate change as we move on our recently released Green Energy Framework.” “Provinces and territories, Aboriginal peoples, industry, environmental groups and all Canadians have a fundamental role to play in achieving our climate change goals,” said Mr. Dion. “This project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the benefit of our environment and our health as well as providing economic benefits.” “Today’s announcements are aimed at using cleaner energy, like natural gas, and making sure that we use energy as efficiently as possible,” said Mr. McCallum. “By making natural gas more available in Halifax, it will help businesses, institutions and individuals make decisions that will address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” “The announcement of these funds is great news,” said Mr. Kelly. “HRM has made a commitment to the community energy project because air quality is so important to regional council and our residents. The federal and provincial financial support will certainly help move the community energy project forward, resulting in huge environmental and economic development benefits for HRM.” The ministers also announced that the government of Canada, along with the province of Nova Scotia and Heritage Gas, will provide financial incentives to owners and managers of commercial and institutional buildings and municipal, university, schools and health facilities to convert furnaces and water-heating equipment to energy-efficient natural gas equipment. The government of Canada will invest about $3.8 million, matched by the province, to provide rebates for up to 50 per cent of the capital costs paid by medium and larger energy consumers to replace their existing space- and water-heating equipment with high-efficiency equipment.