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Council approves mill subdivision for Green Energy Project

By Michael Potestio - Merritt Herald
Published: July 08, 2013 3:00 PM
Updated: July 08, 2013 3:41 PM

Council voted unanimously on June 25 to authorize the mayor and chief administrative officer to sign a performance agreement that will allow eight and a half acres in the southwest corner of the Tolko lumberyard to be subdivded and used for Western BioEnergy’s Merritt Green Energy Project.

The portion of the Tolko property that will be used for the Green Energy Project is on the corner of Midday Valley Road and Houston Street, Merritt Mayor Susan Roline told the Herald.

City of Merritt Chief Administrative Officer Matt Noble told council the project is a very important economic development for Merritt.

He said he expects the next steps to result in a major construction project in the city that will bring additional benefits once completed.

The subdivision is one of the last few steps to make that land available for the project to begin.

The Merritt Green Energy Project will burn wood waste from mills to create electricity to put back on the grid.

Tolko will be using some of the energy and supplying some of the wood waste to Western BioEnergy ro use in the project, Roline said.

The mayor said this project will have benefits to both Tolko and the community.

“I think the biggest benefit is lower cost [of] power for Tolko, and then for the community [it] is supplying additional power back to Hydro’s grid, but it’s also cleaning up all the wood waste within our forest so it’s not being burnt out there and going into the atmosphere. It’ll be processed and turned into hydro-electricity, so that’s the biggest benefit,” Roline said.

She also said the city has been told that as this project progresses, there will be an option for Merritt residents to take small trees and leave them at the site for use.

“It helps our residents also get green,” Roline said.

August is the projected start date to break ground on the site. Next, council will need to pass a building permit.

Merritt Tolko manager Clayton Storey said the approval is excellent news for both wood working businesses and the community alike.

“Of course we support any economic growth within the communities we operate in,” Storey said. “We’re excited that we’re one step closer to seeing a power plant become a realization.”

Tolko and all other wood working facilities as well as the surrounding woodlands will supply product to the plant, he said.

“It’s a great opportunity for anyone who’s reliant on the forest industry to provide biofuel to that power plant,” Storey said.

Coun. Dave Baker, who works at Tolko, excused himself from the vote.