Alberta digester to process 40,000 metric tons per year

The city of Edmonton, Alberta, in collaboration with the University of Alberta and BioFerm Energy Systems, Madison, Wisconsin, will begin constructing an anaerobic digester to create energy from its organic waste.

The BioFerm high-solids or dry fermentation anaerobic digester will aid Edmonton with its goals of diverting 90 percent of residential waste from landfill and reducing greenhouse emissions. The anaerobic digestion technology will be incorporated into the city’s existing composting operation.

The facility initially will process 40,000 metric tons per year of high-solids, organic waste supplied by the city of Edmonton and the University of Alberta and can handle 48,000 metric tons per year of organics. It primarily will include municipal solid waste, source separated organics from the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors and yard waste.

The 1.43-megawatt (MW) electric combined heat and power (CHP) unit will have a 1.5-megawatt thermal capacity. Average annual energy production includes 12.5 million kilowatt hours of electrical production and 45,300 million British thermal units of thermal production, enough to provide electricity to 1,107 homes and to heat 1,031 homes per year.

The methane produced and used equals the avoided release of 46,000 metric tons carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, and the energy generated equals reducing emissions from 11,786 metric tons of CO2 per year from a conventional bituminous coal facility.

The Climate Change and Emission Management Corp., Sherwood Park, Alberta, has committed $10 million to the project.

Heartland Biogas files lawsuit over anaerobic digester closing

Heartland Biogas, a subsidiary of San Diego-based EDF Renewable Energy, filed a lawsuit against Weld County, Colorado, in federal court claiming the county’s decision to shut down an anaerobic digester the company owns near LaSalle, Colorado, was “irrational,” according to an article in the Denver Post. The $115 million facility was shut down after odor complaints from local residents.

Weld County Commissioners suspended the special review permit for the facility Dec. 19, 2016, the article says. The plant converted cow manure and food waste from local ranches into natural gas that was cleaned, compressed and injected into the Colorado Interstate Gas Co. pipeline.

The plant reportedly output the equivalent power of a 20-megawatt electrical plant and generated compost for farms in the surrounding area.

The digester became fully operational in November 2015, and according to the report, nearby residents have repeatedly complained of the odor emitting from the facility. Ten residents who reportedly complained persistently made up about 80 percent of the 600 complaints.

The report says the facility exceeded odor limits outlined by the Weld County permit once in April 2016 after which Heartland invested $4.2 million in smell mitigation equipment and studies. As well, county and state officials have performed 800 tests on the facility without any further odor limit compliance issues.

In September 2016, Weld County Commissioners limited the plant’s gas production by 60 percent. Heartland implemented its odor equipment Nov. 10. The lawsuit claims the outcome of the Dec. 19 hearing was predetermined.

Maine Municipal Review Committee and WTE company reach lawsuit settlement

The Maine Municipal Review Committee (MRC), Ellsworth, Maine, and Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. (PERC), Orrington, Maine, have reportedly withdrawn their ongoing lawsuits against each other.

According to local reports, The MRC, which represents the solid waste interests of 187 Maine municipalities, and PERC reached an agreement to end their relationship in March 2018. The agreement will allow the planned waste-to-energy facility in Hampden, Maine, being developed by Cantonsville, Maryland-based Fiberight, to proceed.

According to the report, the Hampden facility is still scheduled to accept waste on its planned date of April 1, 2018.

In 2014, the MRC filed a suit against USA Energy Group LLC, the managing general partner of PERC, accusing the company of violating its partnership agreement by using municipal funding to pay off a $1.2 million bill for lobbying legislation communities were opposed to in 2014.

USA Energy filed a countersuit, which came as the committee was rallying member communities to sign up for the Fiberight proposal after the PERC contract expires in 2018, the report says. Both lawsuits have been dismissed without judgment against either party and reportedly cannot be brought back to court.

The committee will receive $600,000 from PERC in exchange for giving up the member communities’ abilities to become partial owners of PERC by calling in their shares after the contract ends, the report says. The money will be dispersed throughout member communities and fees from tonnage shortfalls will be waived as well.

PERC still has an ongoing appeal with the Kennebec County Superior Court on permits for the Fiberight facility. Because of this, the committee deferred consideration of financial closure from its original date of Jan. 1, 2017, to May 1, 2017.