December 14, 2011
The City of Ottawa and Plasco Energy Group are now partners for at least two decades.
With a 22-1 vote, council on Wednesday approved a contract with the local waste-to-energy company, which will process 300 tonnes of municipal garbage daily at an annual cost of $9.1 million to taxpayers.
Only Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes voted against the deal.
“It’s moot whether the process works or not,” Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Peter Clark said.
“You don’t try it, you never find out.”
“There is nothing to lose in terms of what happens with the garbage itself,” College Coun. Rick Chiarelli said, adding the financial risk to taxpayers is “virtually non-existent.”
Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury pointed out the risk to the city’s reputation but he said the benefits are significant, as is the possible “exposure” to Ottawa.
“The world is watching. Make no mistake about it,” Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder said.
Mayor Jim Watson said it’s time to progress beyond filling holes in the ground with trash.
“When you think of it, since the time of cavemen we’ve been burying garbage,” Watson said.
Sending trash to Plasco will defer the need for a new city dump until 2070.
Plasco’s plasma gasification technology super-heats garbage to produce a synthetic gas that powers electricity-generating engines. The electricity is sold to the power grid and the leftover solid, called “slag,” can be sold as construction aggregate.
The city can pull out of the deal in March 2013 if Plasco hasn’t finalized its financing for the commercial plant near the Trail Rd. dump.
The deal also has four five-year extensions available.
A revenue-sharing scheme has the city receiving a cut when Plasco revenues hit $34.1 million in any year.
The city will also receive some revenue from other plants Plasco builds in North America.
The Ottawa facility must be built by no later than June 2016 and a “ramp-up” period would last up to three years.
Council next year will be faced with options of how to pay Plasco’s bills in the years before operational costs go down at the dump and revenue, hopefully, starts rolling in when the plant is going at full steam.