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REN leader hopeful for March construction on Fruitvale RNG plant

Phase 2 will double volume of renewable natural gas output

REN Energy recently announced the purchase of another 14.5 acres of land for Phase 2 of the wood-waste, renewable natural gas (RNG) plant in Park Siding. However, many residents may be wondering when Phase 1 will get underway.

REN president and CEO Philip Viggiani responded to a Trail Times query about the delayed startup of the much anticipated renewable natural gas plant.

“We’re actually doing a bit of excavating right now,” said Viggiani. “We have the geo-hydro on the land now, we finished the surveying for our development permit, which is critical, and we’ll have that in November.”

Viggiani says the company is also waiting to complete its funding allotment, but if all goes well, they will have the land cleared and ready for construction in March, 2022.

“And we’re expecting it to be finished in 12 months or less from then.”

Philip Viggiani

Philip Viggiani

The CEO confirmed that the land was purchased next to the original plot at Park Siding to make room for the Phase-2 facility, which will double production of clean energy.

“That’s just an expansion of the first one,” he said. “Our first plant is going to be 1.2 (million gigajoules of RNG)and once that’s up and running, we’re going to double, not double the size, but double the volume so we get 2.4-million gigajoules a year.

“And after that all the other sites we have in B.C. are going to be 2.4.”

Viggiani expects Phase 2 to begin three to four months following the completion of Phase 1, barring any unforeseen difficulties.

The project was originally planned to be completed by late 2021 or early 2022, however, that timeline was stretched to begin construction in spring of 2021, and now to March 2022.

Delays to the supply chain due to COVID-19 affected production of everything from cars to widgets, and REN felt the impact. Yet, in one instance it proved a benefit.

“We had a supply problem with one of our systems out of Europe,” explained Viggiani. “What we did, because we had to search it out, we actually found a superior technology for one of the systems we’re using, which is great.

“We did our due diligence, did all the testing to make sure it fit and was aligned with the rest of our assembly. So, that was ‘A,’ then ‘B,’ — COVID hit and that also slowed down supply chain opportunities.

“So just a number of factors that everyone I’m sure felt, that’s why it’s delayed.

“We’re excited,” added Viggiani. “We go there a lot, it’s a sweet town. All the mills are our partners, and the mills are amazing, and very accommodating. They’re with us, so it’s a nice little family that we’ve got.”

Renewable natural gas is a carbon neutral energy made from decomposing organic waste. It displaces conventional natural gas in existing natural gas lines, thereby reducing the emissions from the natural gas system.

Increasing the amount of renewable gas in FortisBC’s system is key to the organization achieving its 30BY30 target – an ambitious goal to reduce its customers’ greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.

Read more: Renewable Natural Gas faciltiy targeted for Fruitvale

Read more: Energy company purchases more land for Fruitvale plant

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