Land slated for biodiesel plant rezoned

More than 400 acres of Red Deer County land near Innisfail earmarked for a stalled ethanol and biodiesel complex has been rezoned.

More than 400 acres of Red Deer County land near Innisfail earmarked for a stalled ethanol and biodiesel complex has been rezoned.

The move suggests there is little expectation in the county that the project will go ahead soon.

“It’s certainly beyond all of its permitting deadlines,” said Coun. Dave Hoar, whose division the project fell in.

“So, from our perspective if they were to come back they would have to come back and start all over again because we have given them all of the extensions we can possibly give them.

“It hasn’t come to be and quite frankly, we haven’t heard much about it.”

In 2007, the county rezoned 403 acres to direct control district to make way for Alberta Ethanol and Biodiesel GP Ltd.’s plant just north of Innisfail.

Spearheaded by Florida-based Dominion Energy Services LLC, the plant was expected to cost approximately $200 million. It would produce 140 million litres of ethanol, 40,000 tonnes of vital wheat gluten, 145,000 tonnes of distillers dried grains and solubles, and 100,000 tonnes of marketable carbon dioxide annually.

That was downscaled from the original proposal, which would have seen up to 379 million litres of ethanol and an equal volume of biodiesel pumped out annually as part of a $400-million project.

But the project never materialized, an apparent victim of a shortage of government funding, increased competition from the U.S. and a glut of biofuels on the market.

A company representative could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Hoar said the zoning in place was specific to the biodiesel plant and restricted other uses for the land.

While farmers could continue to farm the land, the zoning did not allow producers to expand their operations or make other improvements.

“This just reverts the land to agriculture, frees it up, so the owners can own, operate and manage it as they so wish.”

It is the second major project proposed for Red Deer County that failed to live up to its hype in recent years.

In 2007, Plasco Energy Group proposed bankrolling and building a $100-million plant to convert 200 tonnes of garbage a day into a syngas that could be used to generate electricity.

Years went by with little obvious signs of progress before the project fizzled.

In February 2012, nine municipalities, including Red Deer County, on the Central Waste Management Commission decided that it could not guarantee enough garbage to feed the proposed plant and officially abandoned the idea.

In December, Plasco announced it was building a waste conversion plant in Ottawa that could process about 400 tonnes a day. It is expected to be operational in 2015.