Bio-energy plant pitched to Smithers council

The rush for bio-energy developments continues with the latest pitch to Smithers town council from Poncho Wilcox Energy.

  • Aug. 28, 2011 3:00 p.m.

The rush for bio-energy developments continues with the latest pitch to Smithers town council from Poncho Wilcox Energy.

Dave Wilson with Poncho was a delegation to council recently and explained the technology behind a relatively small bio-energy production machine which council in the future may have a chance to invest in.

In basic terms, the process Wilson described was feeding bio material, usually wood waste, into a reactor chamber. The end products are water, char, heat and electricity.

The 16 foot long unit produces very few emissions. Wilson said there is no smoke or pollutants released from the very closed system.

It also doesn’t take too much wood waste. Wilson said there’s more than enough wood waste on a log site to run a processor in Smithers for six years.

Smithers Mayor Cress Farrow said it’s a technology the town will be looking at in the future.

“There are some advantages to this presentation that we saw,” he said, noting that it appeared to be a smaller scaled project compared to others they have seen in the past. “It doesn’t take up the same footprint that a lot of them do.”

The discussion over council’s involvement will take place over time.

“Obviously our administration and staff will have to look into where we could ever be involved in the business,” he said. “[The] difficulties for municipalities of course is using tax payers dollars to invest in a business. It can bring a lot of liabilities with it. It’s something that we certainly would have to do an awful lot of research before we could ever move in that direction.”

Farrow is already considering the benefits of such a development though.

“The first thought that came to my mind is that we have a swimming pool that we’re continuously investing the gas to do the heating. If we were able to use waste heat, it’s heat that would be disposed of otherwise that would be just fabulous to heat the swimming pool.”

He said it might also be worthwhile to look at connecting a potential bio-energy unit to other buildings, including the high school.

No agreement between Poncho and the Town can take place for the time being while Poncho awaits approval from BC Hydro over their ability to supply electricity from the bio-energy reactor.

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