The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) is looking forward to breaking ground on the much anticipated Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) facility near Fruitvale.
The regional district gave REN Energy International Corp (REN) immediate approval to take the next step in the development of its unique RNG facility.
The startup has been an ongoing expectation for the RDKB and West Kootenay residents, as REN first announced its intention of starting construction in the fall of 2020, and was expected to be up and running in late 2021, early 2022.
COVID and supply chain interruptions made an impact on the startup and, more recently, REN awaited a release notice from the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. Under the BC Contaminated Sites Regulation, REN needs government approval for construction on a previously contaminated site before the development permit from the regional district could be granted.
“The RDKB was prohibited from issuing a development permit for the REN project until they provided a release notice authorizing the regional district to issue the permit on lands previously used for industrial purposes,” said RDKB chief administrative officer (CAO) Mark Andison. “REN had been seeking this authorization from the ministry for several months.
“Once the ministry provided its release, the RDKB issued the development permit immediately, on Nov. 18, the same day that the ministry provided its release,” Andison clarified.
REN Energy will be building a production facility that will create RNG produced from wood waste sourced from area forestry companies such as ATCO Wood Products Ltd., located in Fruitvale.
The development permit issued by the regional district allows REN to begin groundworks on the property. A further development permit will be required relating to buildings proposed for the site, explained Andison.
“REN is currently working with RDKB staff on an application for that next development permit.”
This innovative project will feature a unique combination of existing technology that will be used for the first time in North America and help to reduce emissions from British Columbia’s expansive forestry sector.
“We are grateful for the incredible support of Ali Grieve at the regional district, Steve Morissette, Mayor of Fruitvale and (Kootenay West) MLA, Katrine Conroy,” said Phil Viggiani, CEO of REN Energy. “We look forward to breaking ground in early spring of 2023.”
The production facility will be located at the old ATCO mill site at Park Siding just outside of the Village of Fruitvale.
“Our regional district believes this clean-energy project is a win for our community by bringing in new jobs and increasing revenue for the Beaver Valley,” said Ali Grieve, a long-time director for the regional district’s Area A. “We are supporting a cleaner future by improving environmental outcomes with this new technology.”
Once operational, significant new volumes of RNG will be purchased by FortisBC and injected into its gas system for use by its customers.
“Fruitvale is very excited about the opportunity for dozens of local well-paying jobs and fully supports this project as it moves forward,” said Steve Morissette, Mayor of Fruitvale. “The RNG facility will dovetail nicely with Fruitvale’s commitment to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050 and Fruitvale will be in a position to support the workforce with housing and childcare within 24 months.”
By 2030, REN Energy plans to be the single largest supplier of RNG to FortisBC and is expected to greatly assist in providing the RNG volumes needed to meet the province’s CleanBC RNG mandate.