Renewable Energy Project in Elmira Receives the NIMBY Treatment

March 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm Leave a comment

A controversial energy-from-waste plant is back on track in Elmira now that Woolwich council is powerless to stop it. The proposed $12-million facility on Martin’s Lane would consume up to 70,000 tonnes of food waste and manure that would be trucked to the site to decay in closed tanks.

This process, used in Europe but often on a smaller scale, would produce methane gas that would be burned to create enough electricity to power 2,200 homes. It would also generate heat for nearby industry.

Council blocked the proposal last year amid growing public concern about the potential for foul odours bothering residents who live within 300 metres. Since then, the province has ended all municipal regulation, as part of its new policy to encourage green energy projects that may face community opposition. Approval will instead fall to the province.

“The Green Energy Act has basically tied our hands behind our backs,” Coun. Mark Bauman said. Residents complained Tuesday to council that they still fear the facility will disrupt their lives. “There still is a lot of concern about this,” Ron Ormson said. He’s unhappy the province has removed township planning controls. “It’s a greenwash,” Ormson said in an interview.

Proponent Chuck Martin, of Bio-En Power, contends the facility will not smell and will meet environmental standards. “From a business point of view, this is a good location to be,” he told council. Martin’s firm plans to sell electricity to the province for a premium fee. He said the power plant can’t be built on farmland, and must be located near an approved site to hook into the power grid.

Woolwich council has voted to ask the province to reconsider the location, and also to ensure the facility operates cleanly and without adverse impacts. “Green energy is a good project in general, but I’m very concerned about the location,” Coun. Sandy Shantz said.

Construction is planned this fall, for an opening in 2011.

A public meeting required by the province is scheduled April 6, starting at 4 p.m. in Lions Hall in Elmira.



Entry filed under: Waterloo Region. Tags: , , , , .

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