Consortium receives approval for biomass-fuelled cogeneration plant
Mackenzie Green Energy Limited Partnership has received an environmental assessment (EA) certificate for the construction and operation of a new biomass cogeneration facility at a site 175 km north of Prince George, in the District of Mackenzie. British Columbia Environment Minister Barry Penner and Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Richard Neufeld granted the EA certificate following a comprehensive review of the project led by BC's Environmental Assessment Office (EAO).
As the proponent, Mackenzie Green Energy is a partnership of two Alberta companies, Pristine Power and Harbert Power, and Vancouver-based Balanced Power. The Mackenzie Green Energy Centre will burn wood residues from area sawmills to produce an average net output of 59 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable energy for sale to BC Hydro and steam for use by the adjacent Pope & Talbot pulp mill.
The use of steam from the new facility will enable the pulp mill to decrease the use of natural gas for steam production. In addition, the project's use of wood residue as fuel will facilitate the closure of, or the reduction of emissions from, Tier 2 beehive burners at sawmills in Fort St James, Mackenzie, Chetwynd and Bear Lake.
Once the project is operational and the pulp mill power boiler has been shut down, the project is expected to reduce a carbon dioxide emissions by 77% and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 52% (21,900 tonnes per year) from baseline conditions in the Mackenzie area. GHG emissions from the project will be roughly 93% less than those from a combined-cycle natural gas-fired generation facility or 97% less than the emissions from a coal-fired generation facility of comparable size.
Before the project can proceed, Mackenzie Green Energy will need to obtain the necessary licences, permits and other approvals from provincial and local authorities. The provincial EA certificate sets out 133 commitments to be met throughout the project's various phases of the project. Among other things, the proponent must:
*ensure that design, operation and monitoring of emissions protects air quality;
*conduct a screening level test of emissions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxin and furans in triplicate during the first year of operation;
*utilize design and operating procedures to keep noise levels below 65 decibels;
*ensure that design, operation and monitoring of the wood residue storage pile and ash landfill protects surface and groundwater quality; and
*design and operate the project to maximize re-use/recycling of process water.
Other conditions deal with protection of wildlife and provision of economic and employment opportunities for the region's First Nations residents.
The proposal was subject to EA review by both the EAO and federal authorities, the federal review triggered by Mackenzie Green Energy's application for federal financial assistance, under the ecoEnergy for Renewable Power Program administered by Natural Resources Canada.
After conducting a harmonized review of the project, the EAO and federal agencies prepared a joint assessment/screening report. Based on this report, the EAO concluded that the project will have no significant environmental, social or health effects on the surrounding area.
The project is expected to cost between $200 million and $250 million, and will have an operating life of 30 years, with commercial production of electricity scheduled to begin in December 2009. More information on the EA certificate is available on the EA Office Web site, www.eao.gov.bc.ca.