Town weighs its options in Prairie Biogas project

  • Apr. 27, 2011 4:00 p.m.

JULIE BERTRAND/Independent reporter

Town of Stettler Council has decided to take some time to study its options before making a commitment after the County of Stettler officially approached the town with an offer of partnership in the long-delayed biogas project.

Two representatives from county council, reeve Wayne Nixon and councillor Blake Chapman were present at Stettler town council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, April 19 to ask for support for the Prairie Biogas project.

Prairie Biogas, a Saskatchewan-based green energy company, has been courting the town and county to install a waste to energy facility in Stettler for quite some time.

The facility offered by the company would process domestic waste, paper, cardboard, wood, plastic, rubber, textiles and any other organic material to produce bio-oil and biochar, which is a specialized form of charcoal. Those two by-products would then be used to generate electricity in a conventional boiler and turbine.

With this facility, the company’s offer goes, the town and county could kill two birds with one stone: Less waste would be going to the landfill and the electricity generated by the facility could be sold back to the Alberta Power Grid to lower the town’s energy costs and to possibly even turn a profit.

“Every one of our councilors is behind this, which is kind of strange, because there are lot of things we argue about, but not this one,” Wayne Nixon told Stettler town council.

The county wants to have a Prairie Biogas facility because it would be green, proactive and it would add decades instead of years to the landfill.

“That’s a positive thing. It would benefit all municipalities,” said Nixon.

“We feel that we’ve pursued this for so long and we just don’t want to lose the opportunity.”

While town council approved in March to partially fund the environmental study required for the project, councillors still have doubts as to its feasibility.

Council members shared their opinions with Nixon and Chapman, until mayor Dick Richards reminded them that the county was asking for the town’s support and not the town’s opinion.

If town council agrees, Stettler would provide land and waste to the project.

It would also get a bill of $1.3 million, which represents half of the project cost. County would pay for the other half.

“We’re asking for your support. It’s not just a county project, but a community project,” said Nixon.

Town council told Nixon and Chapman that they would be getting a response in the course of this week.