Waste-to-energy facility missed third deadline to prove it has financing
By Laura Mueller, Ottawa Community News
Plasco missed its third deadline to prove it has funding, putting its deal with the city for a waste-to-energy facility at risk.
The city’s environment committee will meet on Feb. 17 to get more information about how the company was not able to prove it had financial backers for the technology by Dec. 31, the second extension the city had granted Plasco in order to prove the facility could become a reality.
When the city signed a contract with Plasco in 2011, council hoped it would make Ottawa the first city in the world to use Plasco’s plasma gasification technology to take leftover residential garbage and use a novel plasma process to turn it into electricity.
Now, after the third deadline passed with no proof of financing, city manager Kent Kirkpatrick sent a memo to city councillors on Jan. 2 to remind them of the terms of the contract, which stipulates that council can now vote to terminate the deal if it wishes.
It also means the environment committee will receive a report on Feb. 17 detailing the results of a call for expressions of interest from companies offering other waste technologies the city could shift its focus to, Kirkpatrick wrote in the memo.
The situation might actually be a “blessing in disguise” for the city, said the newly appointed chairman of the environment committee, Capital Coun. David Chernushenko. It will give city council an opportunity to pause, review what the best options are and ensure it moves forward with the best possible option.
“What’s a nicer story than a local technology, local business, solves the world’s waste problems starting right here in Ottawa. That would be a fabulous story,” Chernushenko said. “Is it too good to be true? At this point, I’d have to say, probably. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing good in it. There might still be a silver lining.”
Stephanie Kinsella, CFRA News
The City of Ottawa is officially on the hunt for a new type of technology that will keep residential garbage out of a landfill.
A Request for Information (RFI) was posted on Merx.ca on Monday "seeking information from potential providers of residual processing technologies (other than landfill) for the management of 109,500 tonnes post diversion residuals generated by or managed by the City...This RFI is intended to identify potential established or emerging technologies that could be used in the future to manage residual waste."
The city is now exploring options because Plasco Energy Group missed the December 31 deadline to prove it had the cash needed to build a new plant by 2016, which means the city can now get out of the deal without any penalty.
The company heats garbage at a high temperature and converts it to a form of electricity. The city and Plasco had a 20-year, $180 million deal in place, but the city would only pay for the waste that was actually converted. The company had previously been granted two other extensions.
Councillor David Chernushenko, who chairs city hall's environment committee, told CFRA's Rick Gibbons’ Homepage Plasco might have a role to play, but isn't necessarily the entire solution.
"That is also an option and that's one we will be considering, and that should be part of the debate. OK, let's randomly say (Plasco) can only take 80% of the waste they said they could? Or there is a certain kind of waste they found that was technologically hard to process. Well, what would happen if we took that out, if we went with what they can do? Where does that leave us in terms of trying to avoid ever having to find a replacement to the Trail Road (landfill)?"
Chernushenko, along with some other councillors, appear to be warming up to the idea of incineration.
"Well, they key thing is you know, this isn't your grandfather's incineration," he said. "This is modern waste-to-energy incineration. I’ve visited a plant in Sweden...they are very high tech, very efficient, very clean but very expensive to build."
City staff will present a report at the February 17 environment committee meeting on what ideas, if any, are received from other companies and the next steps in the partnership between Plasco and the city.
Plasco Energy's Trail Rd. facility in Ottawa.
By Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun
If council pulls the plug on its partnership with Plasco Energy Group, it will burn 10 years of work trying to back a made-in-Ottawa solution to the world’s garbage problems.
But patience has clearly worn thin at City Hall.
Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney indicated he might present a motion to council this month to end the city’s relationship with Plasco, rather than waiting until a discussion scheduled for later in February.
“I think this council wants a clean slate,” Tierney said Monday.
Council’s environment committee will discuss the Plasco agreement Feb. 17.
The company has failed to show it has financing in place to build a commercial plant that meets the city’s requirements.
Capital Coun. David Chernushenko, chairman of the environment committee, said council should still listen to Plasco’s explanation, though he understands why some of his colleagues are frustrated.
“They were given a long and patient opportunity to show their technology could work and now we need to explore other options,” Chernushenko said.
“We have to treat them as one of other potential suitors.”
Council in February is also expected to see the results of a request for information from other innovative waste-processing companies.
The city posted the notice Monday and set a Feb. 5 deadline for responses.