Waste commission seeking more garbage for Plasco project

The group of Central Alberta communities pursuing a waste-to-energy plant with Ottawa-based Plasco Energy Group is seeking more sources of garbage for the long-delayed project.

The group of Central Alberta communities pursuing a waste-to-energy plant with Ottawa-based Plasco Energy Group is seeking more sources of garbage for the long-delayed project.

Central Waste Management Commission members met for their regular meeting on Friday to discuss negotiations with Plasco for a new deal to supply garbage to the proposed 200-tonne-a-day plant to be built in Red Deer County.

The project hinges on enough garbage being found to supply the plant, which uses a plasma heat process to turn waste into a gas that can be used to generate electricity.

Red Deer County manager Curtis Herzberg said the nine municipalities in the commission can guarantee 20,700 tonnes of garbage a year for 20 years. However, the plant will be rated for about 84,000 tonnes.

Plasco has asked the commission to lock up another 35,000 tonnes of garbage for 20 years. As well, Plasco is locating its own sources of municipal garbage.

The garbage issue arose because a review showed there was less garbage available from member municipalities than originally thought because of the necessary 20-year supply guarantee.

For instance, Red Deer County creates about 20,000 tonnes of garbage a year, but only about 3,500 is directly controlled by the municipality and can be guaranteed to Plasco.

A significant reduction in the amount of waste created because of the economic downturn has also meant taking another look at the numbers.

Janet Whitesell, waste management superintendent for the City of Red Deer, said between 2007 and 2010, the city’s waste dropped from 125,000 tonnes a year to 85,000 tonnes. Almost all of the decline can be contributed to lower amounts of construction-related waste. Residential waste levels are fairly stable.

“We can’t commit what we don’t have,” said Lynne Mulder, city councillor and the representative on the commission.

Mulder remained optimistic that the commission will find other sources of garbage for the plant, which might mean looking as far afield as Calgary. Edmonton is building its own gasification plant.

“We as a commission believe the potential is there.”

Plasco has also agreed to a commission counter offer to pay $66 per tonne to take municipal waste. An escalation clause has also been accepted that would boost rates for the original nine communities involved in the project by half of the consumer price index (CPI) per year. CPI is currently about three per cent.

Plasco initially wanted the full CPI built into the contract for inflation costs.

The commission unanimously approved a motion to wait until late this month to hear back from Plasco before making a final decision on a new contract.

Other commission member municipalities include Blackfalds, Bowden, Innisfail, Penhold, Sylvan Lake, Elnora and Delburne.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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