London’s downtown power plant sold to thermal energy giant

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London’s downtown power plant has changed hands again.

The London District Energy plant at Bathurst and Colborne streets was sold last week to Enwave, a firm that operates similar plants in Toronto and Windsor as well as American cities such as Chicago, Houston and Seattle.

“It’s a system that we are very familiar with. It fits into our portfolio,” said Carlyle Coutinho, president of Enwave’s northeast region.

The co-generation plant burns natural gas and serves 60 customers with steam and chilled water and uses cogeneration with an 18 MW capacity. The plant’s clients include the St. Joseph Health Care complex on Grosvenor Street.

The plant has has several owners during the years. The most recent was Veresen, a Calgary-based energy firm.

Veresen announced a $40-million expansion last year, building a new facility across the street from the existing plant.

The key to that expansion was a contract with Combined Heat and Power (CHP), a program operated by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator.

Coutinho said Enwave took over that contract as part of the purchase and will proceed with the project.

He said the project is still in the design phase and construction would not begin until next near

Although Ontario has seen a glut of power generation in recent years, Coutinho said the plant’s focus is serving customers rather than generating power for the grid.

“Our power assets are under contract so whether there is a glut, we will still be operating and providing our customers with service,” he said.

Enwave is a subsidiary of Brookfield, a large asset management firm based in Toronto. Enwave is best-known for operating a system that uses water at the bottom of Lake Ontario to cool downtown office buildings in Toronto.

Along with the London plant, Enwave also acquired a system in Prince Edward Island from Versesen. The Charlottetown plant serves more than 100 customers with hot water through the use of bio-mass, municipal waste to energy and fuel oil.

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Downtown powerhouse

London District Energy traces it roots to a central steam heating plant built in downtown London beginning in 1878.

The company evolved into Cities Heating, run by the Hayman family.

Trigen took over in the 1980s and the old Queens Avenue plant was replaced by the plant at Bathurst and Colborne in 1993.

In 2007, the plant was taken over by Fort Chicago, now Veresen Inc., a large, Calgary-based energy firm that expanded the plant’s electricity co-generation in 2008.

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