Not a ‘rubber stamp’

Fort Green Energy Project continues to dot the i’s and cross the t’s

With their application for their air permit filed, Western BioEnergy Inc. is hoping one of the 22 remaining permits for the local bioenergy plant can be checked off the list.

Western BioEnergy Inc. was approved this summer for two of their three proposed bioenergy plants burning wood biomass to produce electricity by BC Hydro.

Since then, the company, owned by Dalkia Canada, a Canadian subsidiary of Dalkis International, which is a Paris-based energy company, has been taking steps to keep things moving for a construction site start in May of 2012.

In October, the company held an open house in the Fort as part of the public consultation requirements for the air permit application process.

According to Fred Scott, vice president of business development with western BioEnergy, the open house was not only well-attended, but also well-received.

“I’m happy to say that we didn’t receive any negative comments nor did the Ministry of Environment with regards to our environmental protection plan,” said Scott.

He also said the air permit it has recently filed for is the single most important permit needed for the project.

“Without that permit, there is absolutely no way this plant would go forward,” said Scott.

The company hopes to hear back from the Ministry of Environment in Prince George which administers the permit by around Dec. 15.

But Scott is not assuming the air permit or any of the next 21 permits left will be guaranteed.

“It’s certainly not a rubber-stamp process,” he said.

The company is also involved in consultation with the local First Nations of Nak’azdli, Takla and Tl’azt’en.

“What we’re attempting to do with the three bands is to get them into the program on an equity basis,” said Scott. “So they would own a percentage equity interest of the plant.”

There is also a benefits agreement the company is proposing which would include preferential employment, training and apprenticeship programs and direct contracting.

The approved bioenergy plant for Fort St. James could potentially begin the two-year construction period next spring, with a commercial operational start aimed at April of 2014.

The Fort St. James biomass power plant would be located 6.3 km north of town, across from the Apollo mill on a small 3.5 hectare site and would be an estimated investment of $140 million.  Approximately 80 people would be employed during construction and 16 employed directly while the plant is in operation, as well as local contractors required for some aspects of the plant maintenance.

There would be an estimated 60 indirect jobs associated with providing the wood fibre for the plant’s operation.

The facility should produce 33 MW of electricity and use about 200,000 dry tonnes of forest residue per year.

With the biomass being stored in a building, and most of the plant enclosed, the design should keep noise and dust to a minimum, and an electrostatic precipitator would help capture particulates from the exhaust, producing very low emissions, one-onehundredth the emissions produced by the beehive burners.

The plant is also designed to be air-cooled, reducing the water usage, and eliminating the steam plume from older water-cooled bioenergy plants.

The local site would power the entire Fort community, using about 50 per cent of the plant’s electricity, with the rest going down into the grid towards Vanderhoof and the plant would be connected to the electrical grid using a short 300 m 69 kV transmission line.