City's landfill gas-electric project pared back

Carbon credits down to less than half

With carbon credits dropping to less than half the original amount and the cost of a landfill gas-electrical system jumping beyond what was first expected, one City councillor felt there was no choice but to go with a scaled back version of gas collection at Mission Flats.

Coun. Pat Wallace moved for council to opt for a gas collection system that would flare off methane from the landfill rather than convert it to electricity, but said she was disappointed about the carbon credit decline.

"We don't have a choice rally, if we want to do the right thing," she said Tuesday.

The carbon credit revenue started at $25 per tonne when the City started looking at the project, said City environmental services manager Jen Fretz.

But the Pacific Carbon Trust is now paying $11 per tonne.

On the other side, the project was originally planned in December 2011 with a network of pipes for gas collection and a system to convert it to electricity for sale back to B.C. Hydro.

The cost was estimated at $2.62 million, but it's now climbed to $3.3 million, she said.

However, if the City went as far as collecting and flaring off the gas, it would still meet that $2.62 million original estimate.

"We suggest we don't go with the electricity generation side at this time. We feel having a flaring system is the best course at this time. The cost of that is close to original cost of the project, so not requesting additional money at this time."

Council voted to go for that option for now.

Extreme Excavating provided the lowest of the bids to do the gas collection network and earthworks, at $1.67 million. Council also approved that contract Tuesday.

The gas collection system also requires the hiring of one full-time employee to monitor the valves and balance the system, Fretz said.

"You can't just put in the gas system and leave or walk away. It's intricate, it's a labour of love with the landfill," she said.

The City had anticipated about $200,000 in revenue from B.C. Hydro for selling the gas electricity. However, Fretz said that figure hasn't been solidified.

The gas collection system should be in place before winter if weather allows, otherwise it will be finished in spring. Flaring off the gas will reduce the greenhouse gas impact by 25 times the current amount produced, Fretz said.

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