Central Alberta communities to meet on Plasco project

Nine Central Alberta communities involved in a proposed waste-to-energy plant will meet on Thursday to discuss a revamped contract with Ottawa-based Plasco Energy Group.

Nine Central Alberta communities involved in a proposed waste-to-energy plant will meet on Thursday to discuss a revamped contract with Ottawa-based Plasco Energy Group.

In June, the Central Waste Management Commission set an Oct. 7 deadline to negotiate a new contract outlining the terms under which garbage would be supplied to the $90-million plant, which is to be built at Red Deer County’s Horn Hill Waste Transfer Site east of Penhold.

County Councillor Dave Hoar said Plasco submitted a contract by the deadline and commission member municipalities wanted two weeks to review the pact. A special meeting has been set up for Thursday to vote on whether to accept the contract, reject it or request changes.

The initial contract signed with Plasco in 2008 expired in mid-2010 after several extensions. It outlined how much garbage each municipality would commit to the project and a per-tonne disposal fee.

It also made it clear that Plasco would fund the project, a requirement that remains unchanged.

Hoar said given the long delays in getting the project off the ground, communities wanted to review the agreement. In many cases, municipalities have new council members who weren’t around when the project was first proposed.

The passage of time has also meant tweaking other parts of the agreement. For instance, the amount of garbage available was overestimated and communities no longer feel they can provide the 200 tonnes of garbage a day initially envisioned for the plant, which uses state-of-the-art plasma technology to create intense heat to convert waste into a gas that can be harnessed to produce energy.

“There’s a strong likelihood we will have to look outside the current commission members (for additional garbage),” he said. “I think there’s lots of garbage available in the Hwy 2 corridor.”

Proposed changes to the agreement also raise the cost-per-tonne charged to municipalities to $66, up from the $65 in the last agreement. Terms under which municipalities would benefit from a revenue-sharing proviso have been fine-tuned as well.

A gasification plant was first suggested in 2007, when a commission of 15 municipalities was formed to pursue the project. Half a dozen communities later dropped out.

Over the last several years, Plasco has been refining its processes at an Ottawa test plant while pursuing investors and government funding. An application is before the federal government for $17 million from the Green Infrastructure Fund, but there has been no answer yet.

Plasco’s spokesman was out of the country and unavailable for comment on Tuesday.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

— copyright Red Deer Advocate