It was a good turnout at the Fort St. James Community Centre on Oct. 26.
People gathered to hear a presentation from Rick Peterson, plant manager, at Veolia Fort Green Energy.
How long until completion? What are the environmental impacts? What job opportunities will be made available locally? These were some of the questions posed by members from the Fort St. James community.
The Veolia Fort Green Energy Plant is expecting completion of construction and turnover of the facility from Iberdrola to Veolia/Fengate in the second quarter of 2017 according to Peterson.
Veolia is considered to be one of the leading providers of environmental solutions and they are looking forward to a future in Fort St. James.
Veolia’s mission is to resource the world in helping their customers address their environmental and sustainability challenges in energy, water and waste.
“We are not a refinery and we are not a mine,” Peterson said. “We are a very simple plant.”
After a brief presentation, Peterson was able to address many questions and concerns.
Iberdrola is the main contractor of the facility.
The Fort St. James facility will operate 24/7 and consume 200,000 metric tonnes of biomass per year by converting sawmill and logging waste from the B.C. forestry industry and trees killed by the mountain pine beetle epidemic.
The plant, also has a sister facility in Merritt, B.C.
Each facility has been designed with a power supply agreement with BC Hydro of 30 years.
The 40 MW electrical production capacity of the plant is enough to power almost 40,000 households.
But how will this impact the environment?
According to Peterson, the biomass is burned in a high efficiency boiler that ensures that biomass is burned as completely and as efficiently as possible. All dust is controlled in the plant.
“We too are concerned about the environment.”
“We are not allowed to make smoke,” Peterson said. “What’s being discharged into the air from the stack is carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and water vapour.”
“The wood is not carcinogenic. It’s just wood,” he said.
Veolia uses green and recyclable products only. The ash is considered to be a good natural fertilizer and Peterson hopes that this can eventually be utilised by local farmers.
Something new is the implementation of a chipping plant, according to Peterson.
“We are really focused on finding the best value for this fibre,” Peterson said.
In terms of job opportunities, for Peterson, it’s all about keeping it local.
”Our intent is to hire locally as much as possible,” Peterson said.
Contract and support potentials are available and Veolia also intends to set up apprenticeship programs with local colleges and work with educational institutions to set up power engineering programs.
For more information on Veolia visit: veolianorthamerica.com