Garbage-to-energy plan gets big cash boost

Plasco Energy Group’s plan to build a waste-to-energy plant in Red Deer County has been given a $10 million vote of confidence.

Plasco Energy Group’s plan to build a waste-to-energy plant in Red Deer County has been given a $10 million vote of confidence.

The Climate Change and Emissions Management Corp. of Alberta announced on Wednesday that it will provide the grant if Plasco manages to commit all funding for the $100-million gasification plant by September.

Chris Gay, executive vice-president of Ottawa-based Plasco, said the condition is “reasonable” and he believes the September deadline will be met.

“I think so. I hope so. As usual we’re looking at where we are with the federal government. We have every indication to believe it’s do-able. That’s them telling us.”

Plasco will rely heavily on federal government loans and grants to bankroll the 200-tonne-a-day plant to turn municipal garbage into a gas that can be burned to generate electricity.

On a visit to Red Deer in January, Plasco president and CEO Rod Bryden said Export Development Canada is expected to provide significant support in debt financing through a secured loan.

Export Development would cover half the capital cost remaining after other funding sources are lined up.

The federal government’s Green Infrastructure Fund was to be tapped for about $24 million.

Gay said that Green Infrastructure request appears to have been approved at the department level and now awaits cabinet approval.

“So it’s just, I believe, in (Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Minister John) Baird’s in-basket at the moment for him to take to cabinet We’re quite comfortable with where it is and we certainly think we can do the Sept. 30.”

The company still hopes to begin work at the Horn Hill Waste Transfer Site east of Penhold this summer.

It would take about 18 months to build the plant, which could be running at full capacity about six months later.

It would be constructed from modules manufactured at an Ontario plant.

Garbage would be suppled by nine member communities led by Red Deer County, and including the City of Red Deer, in the Central Waste Management Commission.

Red Deer County Mayor Earl Kinsella believes the grant will be a catalyst to get the project rolling.

“It definitely gives a boost,” said Kinsella, who is also chairman of the commission. “(The grant) definitely gives it more credibility as a carbon capture type of enterprise.”

He remains optimistic on a summer construction start. “It can happen. It’s pretty well shovel-ready.”

The project was to have started in the summer of 2009, but investment capital sources dried up in a tanking economy.

Plasco was among five projects that will share $37.5 million in funding announced on Wednesday. Enerkem Inc., City of Medicine Hat, ECB Enviro North America Inc., and Enmax Corp. also received funding, which comes from the Alberta government’s Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund.

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pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com