Town will partially fund study for bio-energy feasibility

  • Mar. 9, 2011 8:00 p.m.

JULIE BERTRAND

Independent Reporter

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 and the company could finally get its proposal on the agenda at the meetings of both municipal councils.

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.

The town and county councils will, however, need to have an environmental impact study at hand before submitting an application to Alberta Environment for their approval to proceed further with the waste to energy project.

The caveat is that Prairie BioGas will not be contributing money to the study.

Moreover, it will expect the town to provide it with sorted waste free of charge and to build the facility, which the company will then rent.

With this in mind, Council approved the County of Stettler’s request to use the remaining Regional Partnership program funds to support the completion of the environmental impact study with one recommendation, though.

“We should have full complete access to that environmental study so that we could use it for whatever purposes that we want,” said councilor Leona Thorogood.

But Council has some reservations, too.

The primary concern expressed with regard to the project is that the Prairie BioGas does not currently operate this process successfully anywhere else.

“We had other environmental guys come to this table and as a council, we said ‘Look, it’s on your dollar, it’s on your dime, we’re not putting any money into it until it’s proven technology and we have to be responsible with that’”, said Thorogood.

The estimated costs associated with this request for proposal process is approximately $60,000 to $80,000.