The City of Yellowknife issued a tender this week for what would be the biggest pellet heating system in the Northwest Territories.
It's calling for businesses to bid on a system that would heat a cluster of five city buildings — the Multiplex, Fieldhouse, fire hall, city maintenance garage, and a city warehouse.
"Right now the estimate is that the gross savings would be about $140,000 annually in terms of the amount we would have spent on oil versus the price of wood," said Shauna Morgan, chair of the city's energy committee.
The city has budgeted $2.1 million for the project. At that rate of return, and without additional funding from other levels of government or carbon credits, it would take 15 years to pay for itself. That's the estimated lifespan of the pellet boilers the city already has at the Ruth Inch Memorial Pool and the landfill.
The city initially tried to do the project in phases, starting with pellet heat for the Multiplex and Fieldhouse.
But, last year, when it called for bids on the first phase the only bid received came in 35 per cent higher than what the city had budgeted for the project.
"But we've learned some things in the past year," said Morgan. "We've got some advice from local companies on how we can improve the design of the project to help save some money, and also found that by combining phase one and two we can also realize some economies of scale."
The city plans to select the successful bid by June 9.