SAEWA Delegation Meets With Kneehill County Council

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At the Tuesday, April 9, 2024, Kneehill County council meeting, Paul Ryan, Vice-chair, project lead and one of the charter members of Southern Alberta Energy from Waste Association (SAEWA) came to Council to share a status update on the project.
SAEWA is and always has been interested in “research and implementation of energy recovery from non-recyclable waste materials and to get away from long-term reliance on landfills.” Waste is treated thermally, which burns cleaner than natural gas. SAEWA has completed a feasibility study, communications plan, retirement plan, regulatory requirements review, and project development plan they have stuck to. The governance model has been agreed to by both the Province and SAEWA membership. A siting analysis was completed by the University of Alberta and out of six potential sites, a site in Newell County was chosen, which received no negative feedback. The site, already a brownfield, is on the corner of Hwy 1 and a provincial highway. A lifecycle analysis was completed and reviewed by a third party. 7M tons of greenhouse gas will be reduced over the project’s life; not an inconsequential number, said Ryan. He noted that landfills are responsible for 28% of methane released in Canada, and SAEWA’s facility will reduce methane emitted by a significant amount.
$1.5M has been spent on engineering reports, and $2M in member support has been spent, for a total investment thus far of $3.5M.
Three companies expressed interest in operating the site, all well-known and accredited in this area. Engineers sorted through the proposals and the company chosen was Hitachi Zosen Inova Group, and negotiations are underway. The Memorandum of Understanding has been in negotiations for one year, and a draft MOU has been completed.
Council asked whether there was anything they could do to help this process along, as SAEWA has been working on this project for years and years. Ryan said that they could “stay alongside the project because we are almost there.” Promoting the project whenever possible, discussing it with MLAs and ministers, lobbying, and submitting letters of intent that waste would be provided. When asked whether they would have enough waste to make the project viable, Ryan was confident that if tipping fees were competitive, the waste would be provided. All municipal solid waste will be accepted.
Council was grateful for the presentation. It was noted that Kneehill pays $4,000 annually to SAEWA, a voluntary requisition at $0.80 per capita. CAO Mike Haugan thought it would be helpful for Council to hear directly from SAEWA as it had been a while since they’d had a project update. Council received the delegation for information and requested that confidential documents referred to in the presentation be shared with Council.