Bio-en CLC Meeting Minutes, 1 April 2014

These minutes are available on the Bio-en Meetings page, mirrored on 7 May 2014

CLC Meeting April 1, 2014- Minutes

  1. Call to Order

    Earl Brubacher called to order the meeting of the CLC in Meeting Room 1 at the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira at 7:01pm.

  2. Roll Call

    The following committee members were present / absent:

    Name: Present: Absent:
    Earl Brubacher (Chair) X  
    Doug Thomas (Vice Chair) X  
    Marg Tassy Kreller X  
    Robert Musselman   X
    Earl Martin X  
    Jerry Heidbuurt X  
    Bob Gray   X
    Michael Purves Smith X  
    Kevin Martin   X
    Tom Fahey (Secretary) X  
    Chuck Martin X  
    Lance Buchholtz (Plant Operator) X  
    Derek Martin (Plant Operator) X  

    Others attending: Vivian Pelany, Bob Jonkman, Al Marshall

    Michael Purves Smith requested additions to the agenda from business arising from previous meeting; Earl suggested we start with the minutes from the previous meeting and then proceed with the items Michael wished to address.

  3. Approval of minutes of March 4, 2014 meeting

    Earl Brubacher presented the minutes and asked if there were any comments or questions.

    Questions & Comments: none

  4. Questions arising from minutes of previous meeting

    Michael distributed a printed list of questions to CLC members (a copy of which is appended to these minutes) and addressed them in order.

    1. Water

      Are there any plans (present or future) to increase the use of municipal water? Do any of the plans that the company will be presenting to the MOE for modification of the REA involve increasing water usage?

      Earl Brubacher replied no to both items – no plans to increase water usage, no plans to request amendment of the REA that will increase water usage.

    2. Biological materials
      1. Woolwich Bio-En has indicated that it will be looking for a modification to the REA with respect to allowable feeder stocks. The examples given at the March 4th meeting and listed in the minutes would appear to be permitted already under the current REA. If this is not the case, could the company please explain why not?
      2. Will any of the requested new feeder stocks contain SRM or human excrement?
      3. What is meant by industrial and commercial input?

      Earl Brubacher explained that any feed stocks the company is proposing should theoretically should be covered by the existing REA, however, if the feed stocks are not specifically stated and listed on the REA, then the MOE position is that the feed stocks are not allowed because they are not on the list.

      Michael commented that items like mushroom compost would be classified as green waste and allowable; Earl replied that the company must list each individual specific item for it to be allowable.

      Earl confirmed that the proposed feeder stock material additions will not contain SRM or human excrement waste.

      Earl explained that in the waste disposal industry “IC&I” stands for “Industrial, Commercial and Institutional”. This would include food waste from food manufacturers, post-consumer food wastes (i.e. restaurants, coffee shops), institutional cafeterias (i.e. university cafeteria). IC&I also includes other general waste materials.

      Michael further enquire if IC&I included port-a-pottie waste . Earl replied, no, as it was human waste. Chuck Martin added that human excrement waste is included in medical waste, a whole different class of waste.

      Jerry Heidbuurt asked about the inclusion of DAF (dissolved air flotation)waste. He indicated that this type of waste stinks badly. Earl replied that DAF was already on the list of approved feed stock materials.

      Michael indicated that there may be more supplemental questions this question, but they could be tabled until a later time.

    3. RNG for Vehicle Use

      Producing gas for vehicle use suggests a new commercial stream is envisioned. Can that be achieved while maintaining base electricity output of the plant? Will the company need to increase input or infrastructure?

      Michael asked if infrastructure or feed stock inputs would be increased.

      Earl replied that the infrastructure would not be increased. Some gas would be purified to remove CO2 and adjust methane, ammonia, and moisture levels. It would then be injected into the union gas line at the plant location and drawn out near Elmira Truck Service location. The gas would then be pressurized for use in sanitation vehicles modified to run on RNG fuel. Union Gas would charge a fee for transportation of the gas between the two locations.

      Bob Jonkman asked if additional industrial facility would be required to process the gas. Earl replied that the equipment required would likely only take up the equivalent area of a 40 foot container. The equipment would be for purification and compression of methane gas.

      Bob noted that this use was not on the original REA. Earl agreed that it was not and this was a different use and the company would need MOE approval to proceed. Additional approvals would be required by Union Gas.

      Earl Martin asked if the gas would be transported in a separate gas line. Earl Brubacher replied, no, it would use the existing Union Gas pipeline. The gas injected into the pipeline would be mixed into the gas already in the pipeline and would most likely be consumed by Union Gas consumers near the plant. The gas extracted at the south end of town would not be the gas injected at the biogas plant. Earl noted that it would be similar to the “green” electricity offered through Bullfrog power – the kilowatts that you use are not the green energy produced at another location.

      Michael indicated there may be supplemental questions on this issue.

      Michael asked if the biogas used as fuel would be excess gas and not impact the 70,000 tons annual limit. Earl replied that yes, it could be excess gas, or an alternative use of the gas and that the gas used to produce electricity could be cut back and diverted for fuel use.

      Michael asked why would it be beneficial to use the gas as fuel as opposed to used to generate electricity. Chuck Martin indicated that the potential RNG project is a pilot project proposed by the Biogas Association to prove the viability of small scale RNG fuel production. It is a project looking for a home. Earl indicated that there was some PR value from the fact that local garbage trucks would be operating on RNG, and could be considered an offset to the greenhouse gas impact of additional diesel fueled trucks making deliveries to the biogas plant.

    4. Expansion of facility / development of adjacent properties

      Does the company’s plans for expansion in the 50 adjacent acres to which it has access include an expansion of current operations and will it mean an increase in truck traffic?

      Michael asked if the development of the adjacent property could be discussed. Chuck Martin advised that 50 acres is probably a little bit more than what is actually there. There are three landowners; Chuck knows one of them. The biogas plant property is approximately 20 acres. The biogas plant occupies about 4 acres, leaving about 16 acres zoned dry industrial.

    5. Increase to truck traffic

      Given that the company has repeatedly insisted that there would be an average of 30 trucks per day (15 for delivery and 15 for removal), and when citizens expressed concern about the number of truck movements potentially reaching 160, the company insisted that the 80 listed in its Design and Operations Report referred to truck movements, please explain why the company will now be requesting twice that number of movements.

      Michael stated that he personally understood that there are times when a lot of trucks will be required, specifically at start up. He asked if the current 40 trucks / 80 truck movements per day limit is not adequate for the truck traffic for the start up phase. Earl Brubacher replied that it was not currently a problem.

      Earl continued to explain that on the original REA the company had requested a limit of 80 trucks per day, a very high ceiling that was not expected ever to be hit. At the last minute, the MOE changed the clause from “80 trucks” to “80 truck movements”, without notifying the company of the change, and posted the document to the EBR.

      Earl continued that the company does not expect to bump up the truck traffic volume to 80 trucks, but in the event of an emergency, the company would be limited to current cap at 80 truck movements / 40 trucks per day.

      Marg Tassy Kreller asked what might constitute an emergency. Earl replied it could be a number of issues – ice or snow storms could prevent trucks from arriving on the scheduled day, resulting in a back log of trucks and forcing extra trucks to arrive or leave on a particular day; if one of the digesters experienced a problem had to be emptied for any reason.

      Earl indicated that the at 80 truck movements / 40 trucks per day is a cap that has a high chance of being hit.

      Chuck Martin added that the 80 trucks per day is equivalent to the number of trucks required to provide a week’s supply of material for the digesters. The facility is not equipped to handle that volume of incoming material and could not take that many trucks for more than one day. However, if the company needed to empty the tanks quickly, the current truck movement cap could be an issue if the truck movements out are combined with truck movements in.

      Chuck provided as an example, in the event that there was a disruption in the process and the company had to stop receiving material for two or three days (approximately 30 trucks). If the problem was in one of the tanks, and 3000 m3 (tonnes) of material had to be removed quickly, at 30 tonnes per load, it would require 100 trucks. The 40 trucks per day limit stretches out the emptying process over a week and the company would prefer to deal with the issue as quickly as possible.

      Chuck noted that he perceived that the fear is that increasing the limit of trucks per day would increase the frequency of a large number of trucks per day continuously bringing material into the facility, but it is just not possible. 70,000 tonnes per year is an average 200 tonnes per day maximum and the company can’t go beyond it.

    Question from Vivian Land usage – if the current biogas plant is successful, would the company consider expanding the facility on the adjacent lands and therefore increase the number of trucks? Chuck Martin replied he couldn’t answer that, but that expansion of the biogas facility is unlikely and is certainly not in the company’s plans. The economics of the industry are such that location in proximity to feedstock material is important as you do not want to be trucking material long distances. Instead of increasing the plant at the current location, it would be more likely that a new plant would be built somewhere else. However, Chuck added that he can’t speak to what might happen if the regulating bodies change the rules, allowing expansion at the current site and not at other locations.

    Vivian further asked if the company had plans to obtain additional contracts to produce electricity. Earl Brubacher replied that right now, additional contracts could not be obtained.

    Marg Tassy Kreller asked why that might be. Earl replied that the government is not offering new contracts. Even if the company wanted to apply for a new contract and build another plant, the company could not since new contracts are not available.

    Michael noted that the CLC’s questions are more directed at supplementary lines of business, for example, production of heat, that in his opinion makes good business sense. However, that would inevitably increase the truck pressure and the CLC was under the impression all along that the truck volume would be restricted to 80 movements per day. He asked what was the possibility of the area being developed for other uses.

    Michael’s concern would be that if other types of inputs are added to the approved list that the truck traffic would increase. It seemed to him that the items listed as additional were small operations which would require smaller trucks than the large tandem trucks. He also noted that compressed natural gas is easier to transport by truck. His concerns is that when additional smaller alternative lines of business are added, he number of trucks would go up. He asked if there was a way that a compromise could be made where, with communication from the company when there are emergency situations that would require additional trucks, could the company live within the 40 trucks / 80 truck movements per day.

    Chuck Martin replied that if the company needed to empty the residual tank or the digester, the 40 trucks / 80 truck movements per day limit would prevent the quick removal of material and stretch the removal process. If the company had to empty the site in two or three days, it could not be done with the current truck movement limit. The 80 trucks per day proposed by the company would never be attained unless the facility had to be emptied of all material.

    Michael further asked if the change in the REA is granted, does that make it much easier to bring in many more small deliveries which increases the truck traffic. Earl Brubacher replied that the economics should address that, since the trucking companies will want to run as large a load as practical.

    Doug Thomas asked a question regarding control of smell emanating from trucks moving through town.

    The tankers are closed, open trucks would likely be closed or covered with a tarp.

    All trucks would be operated by licensed haulers.

    EB – from the company perspective, the company would request that all incoming trucks covered in a manner to minimize odour. If a truck was in violation of MTO rules, there would be the possibility of the trucking company being charged. If there are issues with a particular trucking company, the company would stop using that company.

    Doug commented that the community should address the issue of a truck by-pass with the municipal governments.

    Earl Brubacher commented that he wished to clarify that the truck movement amendment would be dealt with as a separate item. The CLC had requested that they be made aware of any amendments and last month all the possible amendments were listed. The truck movement issue will be submitted as a separate request for amendment, while all other amendments would be grouped together.

    Doug Thomas commented that if the plant capacity was increased or and increase in different feed stocks implied an increase in the truck volume. Earl Brubacher replied that the company is not seeking to increase the 70,000 tonne per year limit to increase the volume of material coming in to the plant. Doug noted that was the issue that the committee wanted to clarify. The addition of the RNG fuel to the product line could increase truck traffic. Earl reiterated that the RNG fuel was a pilot project for feasibility and the company wished to keep options open. The project may not happen if there is no interest. If it does proceed, it would be on a small scale. The Biogas Association is looking for a biogas plant site to showcase that it is possible to use biogas as a source for vehicle fuel.

    Jerry Heidbuurt asked if the testing of the plant had occurred. Earl Brubacher advised the plant was in the commissioning phase. Jerry further asked about emissions testing and if the company could set the time limit for the testing. Earl and Chuck Martin both replied that the testing requirements are set in the REA for the various noise studies, odour studies according to a detailed time schedule over the first twelve months of operations.

    Marg Tassy Kreller enquired how the odour testing is completed. Earl replied that the MOE will take air samples using balloons and which are used by an odour testing panel of a number of people. The air samples are diluted to varying percentages, and when each individual on the panel notice an odour they indicate that they can smell something.

    Chuck added that there are other things that can be measured and quantified, and the samples will be analyzed for the chemical components in parts per million and compared to the MOE limits and the expected quantities that the plant modeling was based on. If threshold limits are exceeded, then

    Bob Jonkman enquired about the gas purification testing and methods. Earl replied that CO2 extraction, H2S, ammonia, moisture, particulate, about 6-8 different categories must be met. There are different technologies available for purification – for example, absorption swing, refrigeration to remove CO2- but the specific technology that might be used is unknown at this point. Bob further asked how much gas would be used for RNG production. Earl replied that up to 20% of the plant capacity could possibly be used. Bob’s concern on this point would be that the energy consumed in producing the RNG fuel would exceed the energy value of the RNG fuel produced.

    A further question regarding what will happen t the waste products from the gas purification was asked. Earl Brubacher replied that this was unknown at this point.

    Michael Purves Smith enquired if more water would be required. Earl replied that no additional water would be required.

    Michael also asked if pyrolosis technology could be used at the biogas plant. Earl replied that he had heard of the term, but was not familiar with the chemistry. Chuck Martin added that pryolosis would not make sense with the materials to be used by the plant. It would involve dry materials and the plant is designed to take wet materials.

    At this point Earl asked for a motion to accept the minutes; Doug Thomas so moved. No objections. Carried.

  5. Construction update:

    Only a few contractors are left on site, doing the tidying up work . Commissioning of equipment is almost all complete; the engines have yet to be tested and commissioned on methane gas. The software is nearly finished and the operators are being trained on it.

    The biofilter has been commissioned.

    A question was posed by from Marg Tassy Kreller regarding what type of paper sludge would be used as feed stock in the plant? Earl replied paper sludge from a paper mill, primarily wood fibre. Michael asked about chemical content. Earl advised that the company has to meet certain regulations on all inputs and testing for various heavy metals must be done prior to using any input. It is Earl’s understanding that the paper sludge passes the MOE requirements.

    All materials must be tested before being received. If any feed stock material does not meet the MOE specified requirements, then the company cannot receive the material. If the feed stock contains materials that would adversely affect the digestion process, they would not be taken in. Chuck Martin noted that a material that contains too much salt cannot be received into the digester.

    Earl reiterated that every source of material must be tested before being received into the digester. Every source stream must be tested annually and again after every 1000 tonnes received. The liquid digestate output must also be tested prior to applying to land. The test results cannot be older than 14 days prior to receipt of materials at the plant.

  6. Other Business:

    Earl Martin asked how long before the plant was producing enough methane to run the generators. Earl Brubacher replied at least six weeks. Earl Martin asked if the generators would be run on natural gas; Earl Brubacher said, no, that they were only commissioned on natural gas. The engines were run on natural gas only long enough to facilitate the various Hydro One and Waterloo North Hydro for purposes of commissioning the electrical components.

    Michael Purves Smith asked if the company had to guarantee a minimum amount of power. Chuck Martin replied that the contract only specifies that if the company produces electricity, it must be sold to the Ontario Power Authority, up to the contract limit. Earl Brubacher added that the electricity generated has a better quality than wind or solar, as it is synchronous generation versus inverter power.

  7. Next Meeting:

    Tuesday May 6, 2014 – 7:00pm

    New Location: Meeting Room at the Elmira Branch, Waterloo Region Library

  8. Adjournment

    The meeting adjourned at 8:01pm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *