Jason Fisher, the vice-president of fibre and sustainability for Pinnacle Renewable Energy, with a sample of sawdust in his left hand and wood chips in his right. Traditionally Pinacle Pellet Inc. in Williams Lake has relied on fibre from sawmills but due to changing times now wish to use burnt wood and logging waste often left in the bush. Patrick Davies photo.

Pinnacle Pellet Inc. explains need for $30-million upgrade to plant

This project comes in the wake of the changing type of residual fibre available in the Cariboo

On Thursday, March 28 Pinnacle Pellet Inc. held an information session for the public about the proposed upgrades to their Williams Lake plant.

Protecting jobs was first and foremost on the minds of all company representatives The Tribune talked to, as was assurances that this upgrade would reduce emissions, not increase them. Dozens of lakecity citizens, officials and members of the business community turned out to hear what Pinnacle had to say and evaluate the facts for themselves.

Currently, Pinnacle Pellet Inc. is seeking a letter of recommendation from the City of Williams Lake for a permit amendment that will increase the size of its baghouse, its air pollution control device and dust collector, from 25 cubic metres per second to 30 cubic metres per second.

Read More:Amendments for Pinnacle Pellet focus of March 28 open house

Pawel ‘Paul’ Pawlowski, director of energy and environment at Pinnacle Renewable Energy, said that in essence what they’re looking to do is a “capital upgrade” to the equipment they have on site in Williams Lake currently. The main addition, Pawlowski said, will be a bed dryer that will increase the “evaporative capacity” of their facility.

“Over the last few years, there’s been a change in the fibre supply in the Cariboo region and the plant, in today’s fibre environment, can’t really handle what feedstock is out there,” Pawlowski said. “What we’re really looking at doing is bringing in wetter material, which is the only material that is available today.”

By adding this bed dryer, Pawlowski said they hope to bring the plant’s production back to its historic levels. The incremental fibre that will fuel this resurgence will be made of brush and harvesting residuals often left or burned out in the bush.

Right now the plant takes in fibre residuals primarily from sawmills, like sawdust, all “clean, virgin material,” nothing with glues or other unnatural chemical agents, Pawlowski said. Once that fibre is broken down to a consistent particle size, the fibre is then placed in their current dryer and heated until there is less than a four per cent moisture content. The fibre is then placed into their pellet machine, which extrudes them into pellet form ready to be used by converted coal power plants around the world.

With their current rotary style dryer their capacity is four metric tonnes per hour of drying capacity, while the proposed bed dryer, Pawlowski said, will add an additional eight metric tonnes per hour. It should also, according to him, make their emissions four times less than the guidelines set by the Ministry of Environment.

Pawlowski said the cost of these upgrades represents a $30-million investment on Pinnacle’s part that will create 90,000 labour hours during the construction phase. He is hopeful that the resulting upgrade will result in “spin-off jobs” for the local community such as in maintenance, trucking and welding.

“Essentially (we’re) just firming up our investment and reinvesting additional capital in the community. (That) is what this project is about,” Pawlowski said.

The main change, physically, will be the addition of the bed dryer and the movement of their current baghouse to a new location. In addition, Pawlowski said they’re planned on paving the fibre area to reduce fugitive dust emissions created by the plant.

Read More: Williams Lake defers the decision whether to pen a letter of support for Pinnacle Pellet

Jason Fisher, the vice-president of fibre and sustainability for Pinnacle Renewable Energy and the company’s agrologist, said that much of the changes they’re making have been driven by the Douglas Fir beetle infestation and fire seasons of recent years. As the type of fibre readily available in the Cariboo changes from sawmill waste to dead or burnt trees, the upgrade is necessary, he said.

“I think there is an environmental service we can provide here in taking wood that would otherwise be burned in a cull pile and turning it into something that is a product people want,” Fisher said.

The chief concerns of the 50 some people in attendance throughout the consultation were emissions by the plant and dust from both the plant’s fibre area and the Canadian Tire Parking lot. Mayor Walt Cobb indicated that protecting air quality from decreasing anymore then it has, due to wildfires and existing carbon emission sources, will play a large factor in the City’s ultimate decision on the project

Ministry of Environment members were on hand at the public consultation in an observer role and to talk with the public. At this time the Ministry is neutral on the proposed project, according to Peter Lawrie, section head of the forest products sector. Until such time as Pinacle Pellet Inc. submits their findings to the Ministry for cross-examination and verification, Lawrie said they could not render judgement one way or the other.

“It’s all a very careful, scientific process and that’s what we do,” Lawrie said.

As of the publication of this article, the City of Williams Lake has yet to issue a letter of support for the permit amendment.

HTML:



patrick.davies@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Examples of the fibre Pinnacle Pellet Inc. has traditionally relied on beside the fibres they’re hoping to utilize in the future. The end result, the wood pellets, are on the end. Patrick Davies photo.

Members of the community discuss their concerns about the project with Williams Lake Councillor Craig Smith and Mayor Walt Cobb at the Pinnacle Pellet information session held at the end of March. Patrick Davies photo.

Just Posted

LETTERS: Gas prices alone enough to keep you warm during cold snap

If you look at your Fortis gas bill Gord McAuley says your anger should warm you right up

IH requests funding support from CCRHD for Williams Lake and 100 Mile House

$1.355,420 request would support projects at CMH, OMH and Fischer Place

$10,000 for Gold Rush Trails marketing video and Billie Bouchie Day celebrations

‘We were very impressed by the calibre of both projects’

Walmart pharmacy offering free blood pressure and glucose screening tests Saturday

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Walmart pharmacists will be answering lakecity’s health realated questions

Williams Lake Spinners, Weavers and Fibre Artists to host knitting event Saturday

Knitting group meeting Saturday, Jan. 18 at the arts centres in Williams Lake

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Oil and gas industry applauds top court’s dismissal of B.C.’s Trans Mountain case

The high court’s ruling Thursday removes one of the remaining obstacles for the project

Most Read