Halifax city council is spending $300,000 to evaluate investing in a green-energy project that would sell waste energy to large consumers downtown.
The district-heating proposal is known as East Port Energy.
"There are a lot of firsts here," said Waverly councillor Barry Dalrymple. He heads the city's environment committee.
One first would be changing the city's charter to allow it get into business.
A second first would be the $25 million power plant planned for Halifax's downtown.
It would burn natural gas to produce electricity to sell to the grid.
The plant would then sell the waste energy to heat and air condition the city's new library, convention center and DalTech.
"There's enough heat being dumped into the Halifax harbour from Tufts Cove to heat all the homes and businesses in Halifax and Dartmouth," said city engineer Julian Boyle. "This 22 megawatt system could also do the same for downtown."
Council unanimously voted to hire someone to study the legal aspects of partnering with majority owners Emera Inc., and AltaGas Ltd.
"With the kind of money we are talking about obviously there are risks, but we need to spend the money to see if this can move forward," said Dalrymple.
Selling the electricity and waste energy could generate as much as $2 million per year for the Halifax Regional Municipality.
A decision is expected later this year.