Seward plans to heat city buildings using seawater

KENAI – Seward is planning to heat four city buildings using seawater pumped from Resurrection Bay.

The City Council approved a resolution this week to accept a $725,000 grant from the Alaska Energy Authority to design and build a ground source heat pump, the Peninsula Clarion .

The city will use the pump to heat the Seward Community Library, City Hall Annex, City Hall and Fire Hall, and it could expand the system to heat more buildings at some point in the future. When completed, officials expect the new heating source to save the city about $25,000 a year.

Downtown Seward, Alaska, is shown on the left, with the municipal airport on the right, at the head of Resurrection Bay in this undated photo. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

Seward officials tested the concept in 2015 by drilling a test well on the waterfront. The tests produced favorable results, leading to the grant funding from the state.

The system will be modeled after the one at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward.

The center installed its heat pump system in 2011 and has been operating with 98 percent renewable heat since about 2016. The systems have saved the center about $15,000 a month, officials said.

“Heat pumps essentially convert wasted energy into usable hot water,” said Caryn Fosnaugh, the center’s operations director. “The energy being used is coming from the energy it takes to heat the water from Resurrection Bay. It comes into the system and then the heat pumps heat the water.”

The city is putting in about $156,000 for the project.

“The Alaska Sea-Life Center has experienced tremendous success with their heat loop system and the City wishes to utilize newer, advanced technologies that will significantly reduce the cost of heating our City facilities,” interim city manager Jeff Bridges wrote in a memo to the council.

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