Saying the community is still confused about plans for a biogas plant in Elmira, Woolwich councillors will press the provincial government to convene a public meeting about the issue.
Township officials have been hearing repeatedly from residents eager for information about the status of the project. Some still expect the municipality will be part of the decision-making process, unaware previous Official Plan and zoning bylaw issues at the site are no longer relevant: the province is the sole judge of alternative energy projects.
Given that confusion, a detailed explanation is in order, said Coun. Mark Bauman, noting residents need more information, an opportunity to provide input and the chance to have their questions answered.
“The public is entitled to another public meeting.”
The company behind the proposals, Bio-En Power Inc., has already met Ministry of the Environment requirements to hold two public meetings, however, noted director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley.
At this point, the township is almost as much in the dark as the public. Woolwich has provided comments and suggestions about the plant, which would convert organic waste into electricity, but those documents were returned by the MOE. All those wishing to comment will have to wait until the ministry deems Bio-En’s application to be complete. At that point, the documents will be posted on the Environmental Registry website, and the public will have 60 days to comment, he explained.
In an earlier interview, Bio-En president Chuck Martin said the company has been providing the ministry with additional information and documents. He believes the process is done, but the MOE has yet to officially state the application is complete.
All the misinformation floating around, even about the process itself, is reason enough for the MOE to call for another public meeting, said Coun. Sandy Shantz – “there needs to be a little more discussion.”
Both the previous meetings were public information sessions – open houses, rather than formal presentations with a chance for the public to have its say and ask questions. The latter kind of meeting is what council is calling for now.
Bio-En plans to create electricity by converting organic waste into methane to power a generator. Materials such as livestock manure, food waste, used cooking oils and other fats will be fed into anaerobic digester, creating the fuel for the process. The $12-million facility would generate 2.8 megawatts of renewable electricity – enough to power 2,200 homes – and 3.4 mW of heat.
Under the province’s new Green Energy Act, municipalities are no longer involved in the approval process for alternative energy projects. Rather, the decision will be made at Queen’s Park.