By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
There’s plenty of green to go around at the Ridge Landfill.
Last week, parent company Waste Connections of Canada, announced the construction of a new $50-million plant to convert garbage-generated methane into low-carbon renewable natural gas.
When completed, the state-of-the-art facility will generate enough energy to heat 18,000 homes in Chatham-Kent.
Ontario’s Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks made a special trip to Chatham-Kent to take part in the announcement.
Dave Piccini told the gathering the new RNG plant dovetails with Ontario’s plan to phase out landfill emissions by 2030.
“Reducing the environmental impacts of waste has been a top priority for our government,” Piccini said, adding the new plant is expected to reduce upwards of 110,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” Piccini said, adding the Blenheim-area plant will be the first of its kind in Ontario.
The minister said the Chatham-Kent project is an example of an environmentally friendly initiative – similar to the new Windsor electric battery plant – that supports the environment while creating jobs.
Mayor Darrin Canniff called the project a major win, noting the venture will create “50 quality jobs.
“This type of development represents the best of both worlds and puts Chatham-Kent at the leading edge of energy transition,” Canniff said.
Waste Connections is moving forward with the project with the support of Enbridge Gas. The renewable gas will be piped to market by way of new and existing Enbridge pipelines.
Jim Redford, vice-president of energy services, gas distribution and storage, Enbridge Gas, said the collaborative effort is another step Enbridge is taking towards supporting “the transition to a low-carbon future.”
According to Redford, the waste-turned-methane will be upgraded and compressed at a new plant before it flows into the grid as renewable natural gas.
A number of steps still need to be taken before the project proceeds, including final approval with the Ontario Energy Board. Stakeholder engagement also needs to take place, including consultation with First Nation communities. Engineering designs and other approvals will follow.
“Hopefully construction can begin in 2023,” Redford said.
Waste Connections operates eight similar projects in North America, including the largest Canadian landfill gas to RNG facility in Lachenaie, Quebec.
Enbridge will be adding a new four-inch diameter, 5.7-kilometre pipeline, along with compressor station upgrades, to support the new project.
The Ridge Landfill site has been operating since 1966.