Syracuse hopes to save energy using
Lake Ontario water
The Associated Press
Published October 24th, 2004
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Cornell University has done it. So has
Canada's largest city.
Now a group of community leaders wants Syracuse to follow
suit and become the first city in the United States to
cool its downtown buildings with lake water.
The impetus? Using water from Lake Ontario would save
millions of dollars in energy costs. The naturally chilled
water from the lake's bottom would be pumped to Syracuse,
used to remove heat from air conditioning systems in public
and private buildings, and recycled into Onondaga Lake.
An intended bonus: Millions of gallons of clean, oxygen-rich
water from Lake Ontario would help speed the cleanup of
Onondaga Lake, one of the nation's most polluted bodies
"I would be the first one to sign up," said
Cornelius B. Murphy Jr., president of the State University
College of Environmental Science and Forestry. "This
is the kind of thing that could put our community on the
cover of Time Magazine."
Murphy said using Lake Ontario water to cool his campus
buildings could cut electric bills for air conditioning
by 75 percent or more.
U.S. Rep. James Walsh likes the idea, too. He included
money in a House Appropriations bill for fiscal 2005 to
conduct an engineering and feasibility study. Local officials
say the project could help fuel the region's growth by
lowering the cost of utility bills.
"The idea is to have a renewable energy source with
unlimited chilling power," Walsh said. "After
it's used, you're pumping all of this highly oxygenated,
fresh, clean water back through the Onondaga Lake system.
It's a win-win situation."
To find out if the plan will work, and how much it would
cost, Walsh asked for a $1.5 million grant for Onondaga
County's Metropolitan Water Board. The money is expected
to be approved by Congress by the end of the year and
the study could start in early 2005.
Toronto, on the other side of Lake Ontario, this summer
became the first city in North America to build such a
system. The $169 million project now cools about 10 downtown
office towers and other buildings, including The Air Canada
Centre, the city's indoor sports arena.
Toronto's Deep Lake Water Cooling system could eventually
serve up to 100 buildings, said Lisa Belanger, spokeswoman
for Enwave Energy Corp., the system developer and owner.
Enwave says its project reduces energy use by 75 percent
compared to mechanical chillers used in air conditioning,
and could ultimately free more than 59 megawatts from
Ontario's electrical grid. The project also keeps about
40,000 tons of carbon dioxide pollution from power plants
out of the air, the equivalent of taking 8,000 cars off
Before Toronto built its large-scale system, Cornell
University in Ithaca used the same technology with Cayuga
Lake when it opened the Cornell Lake Source Cooling project
four years ago. Cornell's $58 million project, which cools
about 75 campus buildings, was the first in North America
to use a lake for air conditioning.
Now the four-year-old system is paying big dividends:
The university says it reduced its power costs for cooling
by 86 percent or 25 million kilowatt hours, saving about
$2 million per year on its electric bill.
Lanny Joyce, senior engineer and energy manager for Cornell's
Department of Utilities and Energy Management, said that
while the cost of installing lake source cooling is nearly
twice that of conventional air conditioning, the system
pays for itself in the long run and provides an environmentally
sound source of renewable energy.