Commentary | How to pay for an all-electric pool

Well it turns out an all-electric pool can be built in Piedmont. 

At the last meeting of the Pool Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting, the design consultant (ELS) revealed the results of the energy feasibility analysis for the 11,000 sq. foot pool and building, the two energy options being natural gas and electricity. The analysis showed that the initial cost to build a natural gas facility is $870,000 while an all-electric facility is $1,340,000, a $470,000 difference. But over 25 years, it costs more to operate a natural gas pool ($77,600 annually) than an electric pool ($57,100), a $450,000 difference. So the upfront added cost of an all-electric pool is offset by operational savings over 25 years. 

Given the fact that electricity generates no greenhouse gases while natural gas doubles pool current emissions, the all-electric pool is the obvious choice. 

There are still some details to work out though. The energy analysis was averaged over the year and there are peak energy usages that have to be accounted for in sizing the pool heating infrastructure. These peaks occur during the cold winter months and there is some question as to whether there is sufficient space and power supply for the electrical heaters and pumps onsite to meet these peak demands. And these peaks will require that more electricity be obtained from the grid which will drive up operating costs. 

The consultant seems to be considering offsets to the facility design to make up for these added costs. Two mentioned at the meeting were an elimination of the party room and downsizing the competition pool from 27 meters to 25 meters. That’s unfortunate as these two elements were prominently discussed during the UU campaign and it would be disingenuous to the spirit of UU to eliminate them from the design, especially when funds for the added costs can so easily be found. The city’s General and Facility Maintenance Funds both have major surpluses and tax revenue is well ahead of projections so additional funds for the pool are available. The operational costs are harder to solve but can be addressed through hours of operation for the facility. The assumption is that the facility will be operated from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm year-round. Reducing those hours of operation during the winter would have a significant effect on reducing the infrastructure and energy needed to run the pool.

The party room and a sustainable pool were both prominently discussed during the UU campaign. It would be inappropriate to eliminate them from the design for structures and programs that were not.

3 thoughts on “Commentary | How to pay for an all-electric pool

  1. > These peaks occur during the cold winter months and there is some question as to whether there is sufficient space and power supply for the electrical heaters and pumps onsite to meet these peak demands.

    Have they considered a hybrid system that uses gas for peaks while running on electricity most of the year? This is analogous to gas peaker plants for power generation along with renewables.

  2. And another environmentally responsible way is to put solar collectors on top of the party room, and wherever else is available for them, to bring down both the financial and environmental costs of heating the pool.

    • Debit makes a key point to the feasibility of the all-electric pool – generating as much onsite electricity with solar panels as possible. I think the current design has maxed out the roof space with panels. A large oak tree adjacent to the party room is being preserved but that could be removed to make more space for a solar panel array. Plans call for moving oak trees from the site rather than cutting them down – perhaps this tree could be moved as well.

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