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Central Alberta waste-to-energy project championed by Village of Caroline

Caroline mayor sees opportunity for a regional alternative to landfilling

The Village of Caroline’s mayor is trying to drum up support for a regional waste-to-energy project to replace landfilling.

Mayor John Rimmer told Town of Rocky Mountain House council Tuesday the goal is to seek out private backers to own and operate a plant that would take garbage municipalities now truck to landfills and process it into a product that can be used to create energy.

The technology would be similar to that promoted by Fogdog Energy, which is working on a waste-to-energy project for the Town of Sylvan Lake. The company is still awaiting final provincial approval.

“They’re in the running,” he said of Fogdog. “But we’ll have several different bids from different companies.”

Albertans create about 3.4 million tonnes of waste yearly — or about one tonne each. A little under one-third of that is recycled, leaving about 2.5 million to be trucked to the province’s 162 landfills.

Rimmer said waste-to-energy is a much better option.

“It would take in a lot of the stuff that’s going into our landfills that shouldn’t be,” he told council.

About one-quarter of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions come from landfills, mostly in the form of methane. The waste-to-energy plant would produce only carbon dioxide and nitrogen, and it would not involve burning garbage.

“It doesn’t incinerate the garbage, it cooks it.”

While there may be some initial municipal financial involvement to get the project off the ground, the intent is to create a profitable private-sector operation, said the mayor.

A waste-to-energy plant could be profitable charging about $100 per tonne, which is less than Caroline is paying now to get rid of its garbage when all costs are included, he said.

Besides providing a more environmentally responsible way of getting rid of waste, the plant would provide a welcome boost to rural Alberta, he said.

“A Caroline facility would show how remote areas, isolated communities, can be self-sustaining.

“Our communities in rural Alberta and across the country are suffering big time, because where does all the money go — down into the cities, where it’s concentrated.”

Rimmer has been seeking shows of support for the project from central Alberta municipalities, including Clearwater County and Sundre.