Mapleton council voices support for proposed power generation facility

MAPLETON – Township council is supporting a proposal to construct a natural gas power generation facility between Rothsay and Teviotdale.

Local farmer and entrepreneur Korb Whale attended the Nov. 28 meeting to seek council’s support for an application by Mapleton Power Inc. to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to supply power to the grid.

Whale explained the project is scheduled to be a five-megawatt power generation facility located on a portion of Mapleton’s Organic Dairy Farm on Wellington Road 7 across from Wellington County’s Rothsay Waste Transfer Station.

Whale, owner and operator of Clovermead Farms near Goldstone, as well as Mapleton’s Organic Dairy Farm, said under the terms of the IESO RFP Mapleton Power Inc. is applying to, proponents must be existing power producers.

“On our dairy farm near Goldstone, we’ve been producing electricity with an anaerobic digester for the last 10 years, I guess 11 years now, and we use the biogas from the digester to power an engine and make electricity to put back on the grid,” said Whale.

He noted the Rothsay-area project will utilize the biogas produced at the Goldstone location, where a Feed-in Tarrif (FIT) contract to supply power to the grid is set to expire.

“As the FIT contract runs out in the next while, we’ll be able to use our biogas to run this project near Rothsay,” he explained.

Whale said Fergus-based 2G Energy, which supplies engines for cogeneration facilities like the one proposed, is a co-proponent of the Mapleton Power Inc. project.

Whale told council the proposed location has “no immediate neighbours” and is next to a bush “so it will be discreet.”

The facility will consist of a small (about 25’ x 25’) switchgear building and two insulated seacan containers on concrete pads which will house the engines.

“The reason we’re asking for municipal support is, first of all, because I see this as the first step in a, hopefully, larger project that we can participate in as a municipality,” Whale explained.

“But secondly, it gives us extra points in the approval process with the IESO.”

Mapleton Power Inc. has already hosted a required community engagement meeting and plans to submit an application by the IESO’s Dec. 12 deadline.

“We will find out in the first half of next year whether we received the contract and then, from there, it’s engineering and start to work on the site,” said Whale.

He added that if approved, the plan is to have the site operating before 2028 to take advantage of incentives for early start-up.

Whale told council the facility would produce very little noise and emissions are “extremely low.”

“Since we’ll be using renewable natural gas, we’ll actually be using green fuel. So, we’re removing methane from the atmosphere, not producing any,” he explained.

“I think it will be good for the community. Any time we do these projects we hire locally, so it’ll be locally built and locally serviced. And as I mentioned, hopefully this is part of a longer-term thing.”

Whale added, “We have a digester … as sustainability becomes more and more relevant across all sectors, especially in a community like ours that’s agriculture based, hopefully, we can encourage more digestion if there’s an outlet for their biogas.”

“It seems like an exciting project. And I agree that agriculture can be part of the solution, not the problem,” said councillor Marlene Ottens.

She asked Whale if he felt the company had a good chance of landing a contract.

“We feel fairly optimistic that we’ve got a good shot, as long as our business case meets what they’re looking for,” replied Whale.

Mayor Gregg Davidson asked if the facility would create any problems with odour.

“There’s no odour,” Whale stated. “This is not an anaerobic digestion site. This is simply an electricity generation site.

“So the gas that we will be using will be in tube trailers. It will be compressed gas in tube trailers that will be directly connected to the engine. There will be no opportunity for that gas to leak. And the exhaust coming out of this is largely steam.”

Councillor Michael Martin expressed support for the project.

“Our local ag sector are some of the brightest and best around, so to see a project like this … creative, and innovative … off the back of the digester and using biogas, it’s fantastic. I see it as nothing but a great story,” said Martin.

Council passed a resolution expressing support for the development, construction and operation of the energy generation project.

It also authorized the completion and signature of the necessary letters and forms of municipal support as required by the IESO.