Six potential locations are being investigated for an energy-from-waste facility and the Southern Alberta Energy from Waste Association (SAEWA) says the economic and environmental benefits of having one make sense for Bow Valley municipalities.
After almost two years of extensive feasibility and engineering studies, SAEWA is in the final planning stages to develop a facility that will convert municipal solid waste into energy, as stated in the 2016 annual report.
SAEWA is made up of municipal entities and waste management jurisdictions such as Banff, Canmore and the Municipal District of Bighorn, that have committed to research and implementation of energy recovery from non-recyclable waste materials.
The six locations being looked at for a potential facility are “still confidential” as of right now, according to Paul Ryan, SAEWA vice-chair and MD councillor.
Although the sites haven’t been revealed, Ryan underlined two main factors as to why the Bow Valley benefits from the construction and operation of such a facility.
“Not only will we be able to have long-term control of our costs, we can also extend the lifespan of the Francis Cooke (Class 3) Landfill at Exshaw,” wrote Ryan in an email.
According to SAEWA, a variety of funding models for the project were taken into consideration and evaluations showed that “tipping fees under a regional utility model ranged from $4.79-$91.78 per tonne.”
SAEWA says depending on the level of support provincially and federally, it would be “significantly less” than what most municipalities pay for solid waste disposals at landfills.
The second benefit to the Bow Valley would “also significantly reduce our carbon footprint,” said Ryan.
Municipal waste from the Bow Valley is taken to and dropped off in different provincial landfills.
Trucks carrying solid waste garbage from Banff, Banff National Park and Canmore travel about an 800-kilometre round trip to the West Dried Meat Lake Landfill near Camrose.
Trucks carrying MD garbage currently travel about a 200-km round trip to drop garbage off at a Calgary landfill.
Municipalities produce an estimated 300,000 tonnes of suitable waste annually, and SAEWA says an energy-from-waste-facility could cut CO2-equaivalent emissions by between 44,00 and 116,000 metres tons per year over land dumps and cover practices for the same material while generating a source of power.
“A SAEWA facility has the potential to reduce that carbon footprint by about 50 per cent or more if we can move away from burying untreated waste in the ground,” wrote Ryan.
Banff and Canmore’s previous support of SAEWA initiatives are currently unchanged.
SAEWA added in its report that an energy-from-waste facility would meet the objectives of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan, which includes reducing carbon emissions and developing more renewable energy.