Burning municipal waste to power the city is a no-go, says the Yukon Energy Corporation.
In a presentation to city council Wednesday, the utility quashed the idea of using garbage to produce electricity.
It’s simply too expensive.
According to Yukon Energy’s feasibility study, it would cost about $40 million just for a plant that would only generate a couple of megawatts of power.
“It’s essentially the same cost as diesel,” said Don McCallum, director of environmental services for Morrison Hershfield, the company that conducted the study.
While the economics don’t work now, the idea is still worth keeping an eye on, said David Morrison, president of Yukon Energy
Right now, the technology is too expensive, but that could change.
“I think it’s very much worth paying attention to what happens over the next few years,” he said.
However, currently it’s just not a viable option.
“The amount of output that we would get out of the plant and the high cost that we would have to invest to get that output, we are today telling you that we’re going to back off and back away from this project,” said Morrison.
The city and the utility have spent more than a year looking at the viability of a waste-to-energy project.
“It’s certainly good to receive the information from the report,” said Mayor Bev Buckway. “Perhaps not what we had felt the results might be, but again that’s why you do the feasibility study to see what the facts are.”
Those facts are music to the ears of some.
“I did a little dance,” said Joy Snider, executive director of Raven Recycling. “I know that Yukon Energy has a difficult job to find energy, but I’m also pleased that they see waste as a resource that should be recycled but not burned.
“I’m very happy. Now we can concentrate on recycling and diverting the waste from the landfill.”
The fact that Whitehorse has been working for years to reduce the amount of garbage it produces was another factor that made thewaste-to-energy idea a non-starter.
Currently, the city diverts about 20 per cent of its waste from the landfill, but its goal is to more than double that in the next three years.
Whether or not it can reach that goal is another question.
“I want to be optimistic and say it is,” said Buckway. “It could be achievable if we could get everyone onside, but that’s the hard part.
“There’s a lot more that we can do in Whitehorse to reach the diversion targets and it would be lovely to think at some point that we could even exceed the diversion targets.”
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