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Twp. seeks “presenter” status at biogas hearings

Having opted out of joining the formal appeal against a biogas plant proposed for Elmira, the township will seek “presenter” status in the upcoming Environmental Review Tribunal hearings. That will allow Woolwich to air its concerns about the project, over which it had no say following the province’s introduction of the Green Energy Act.

Dan Kennaley, Woolwich’s director of engineering and planning, staked out that position at Tuesday night’s council meeting, winning the endorsement of council.

By shying away from full participant status, the township avoids any legal costs, but gets to outline its concerns about the facility to be built by Woolwich Bio-En Inc., he said.

The project will use an anaerobic digester to convert organic material into methane that, in turn, fuels a generator to create electricity. On top of traffic concerns, the township has determined the plant is not compatible with the zoning of the Martin’s Lane property just north of downtown Elmira.

As well, the township wants guarantees there will be proper enforcement of rules should there be any problems, such as odour complaints, stemming from the operation of the facility, Kennaley said.

The concerns identified by the township will be rolled out by the Elmira Bio Fuel Citizens’ Committee, which appealed the province’s March approval of the project to the Environmental Review Tribunal. The group is looking for public support at an ERT hearing starting at 10 a.m. May 8 in the banquet hall at RIM Park, just across the Woolwich-Waterloo border on University Avenue East.

The altnerative-energy project won provincial approval in late-March, despite reservations on the part of the township and some residents, who aired concerns about the potential for odours and the impact of increased truck traffic. The operation will be fed by waste material, including livestock manure, food waste, used cooking oils and other fats and the like. A diesel generator converted to work with methane will generate electricity to be sold back into the grid, while steam heat produced could be sold to neighbouring industries.

The $12-million facility would generate 2.8 megawatts of renewable electricity – enough to power 2,200 homes – and 3.4 mW of heat.

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