Metro Vancouver is taking more heat over its plan to build a second garbage incinerator, with a new study commissioned by waste company Belkorp Environmental Services suggesting the move could cost up to $1.3 billion more than originally estimated.
The analysis, conducted by ICF International on behalf of Belkorp, comes as Metro Vancouver attempts to deal with the province’s rejection of its proposed Bylaw 280, which was integral to its solid waste management plan because it would have ensured garbage generated in Metro was kept in the region.
Belkorp, which runs the Cache Creek dump, has been involved in a high-profile lobbying campaign against Bylaw 280 as well as Metro Vancouver’s plans to burn the region’s waste rather than landfill it. Metro is slated to close the Cache Creek dump in 2016.
“We’re still fighting for options that are better than the incinerator,” said Russ Black, Belkorp’s vice-president of corporate development. “Irrespective of Bylaw 280, we still wanted to show the true costs of the incinerator.”
The report, by ICF’s lead author Seth Hulkower, suggests Metro Vancouver significantly overestimated the revenue it would earn by selling electricity from the new incinerator to BC Hydro over a period of 35 years.
Metro had suggested it would seek to negotiate a price of $100 per kilowatt hour from BC Hydro, but Hulkower noted the waste-to-energy business plan doesn’t take into account that BC Hydro may adjust the price it pays for electricity after Metro recovers it capital outlay on the project.
Metro Vancouver chairman Greg Moore said he’s not surprised with the study’s findings, saying it’s a point that has long been argued by Belkorp.
But he said the analysis is premature considering that Metro has at least 10 proponents offering different forms of waste-to-energy, including district heat and gasification, and there are several potential scenarios.
“They don’t know anything about what we’re doing in our (request-for-proposals) process … all of them are not based on selling to Hydro,” Moore said.
He added Metro has experience running a waste-to-energy plant, having done so in Burnaby since 1988, while Belkorp is interested in setting up multi-material recovery facilities and ensuring the dump continues to operate.
“They are relentless in pursuit of their agenda to continue to have garbage going to their landfill,” Moore said. “Until that decision is made I don’t think they’ll stop.”
Belkorp already has a Coquitlam site where it proposes to build a facility to take a “last pass” at waste to remove recyclables such as organics, paper, plastics and metals, a move that would ultimately rob the region of enough material to fuel another waste-to-energy facility.
Black acknowledged multi-material recovery facilities directly compete with incinerators but say they make sense. “When you look at the range of costs, there’s some serious questions that have to be addressed,” he said.