Williams Lake, British Columbia
The Atlantic Power Williams Lake Project (APWL) is a 66 MW biomass-fired generating facility located in Williams Lake, in south-central BC. The Project commenced commercial operations in April 1993. Atlantic Power indirectly owns 100% of the Project and also operates and manages the Project. Biomass fuel consists of wood waste from sawmill operations, which is provided under short-term and long-term supply agreements with various suppliers.
APWL sells energy to BC Hydro under a long-term Electricity Purchase Agreement (EPA) expiring in March 2018. The EPA has an option for renewal. Both parties are in discussions to extend the EPA, with the focus of such discussions currently on a potential short-term extension while BC Hydro completes its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) update which will consider the future role of biomass in BC Hydro’s mix of generation resources. Depending on the outcome of the IRP proceeding, expected in 2019, APWL and BC Hydro could discuss a longer-term extension of the EPA at that time.
In connection with and contingent upon a potential long-term extension of the EPA, APWL is considering the possibility of including shredded rail ties and other waste wood in the fibre consumed at the Project. Rail ties and clean debris from construction and demolition would supplement diminishing local fibre supply resulting from further mill closures due to a reduction in the allowable annual cut (as set by the BC government). APWL’s principal source of fibre would continue to be the residual fibre from existing wood processing mills in Williams Lake.
In July 2015 APWL submitted an application to the British Columbia Environmental Protection Division of the Ministry of Environment (MOE) to revise its Air Permit 8808 to allow increased use of rail ties as fuel. A consultation report, summarizing the public consultation process, including First Nations consultation, was provided to the MOE in February 2016. That report and APWL’s technical assessment report are available to the public, with links to those reports provided below.
An agreement with the Williams Lake Indian Band (WLIB) was entered into in January 2016 formalizing the consultation process with WLIB. After conducting a third party technical review of the air permit amendment application, WLIB provided a letter in support of the extension of the EPA with BC Hydro and amendments to the air permit and landfill permit. Links to the WLIB support letter and support letters received from other parties including the City of Williams Lake, the Cariboo Regional District, the Central Cariboo Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) and the Williams Lake Chamber of Commerce are provided below.
On September 6, 2016, MOE approved the proposed air permit amendment. Links to MOE’s stakeholder notice, assessment of the permit application and the final permit amendment are provided below. The air permit amendment has been appealed by certain residents of Williams Lake opposed to the increased use of rail ties. The Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) expects to hold an oral hearing on the appeals toward the end of this year or the early part of 2018 and render a decision thereafter, possibly in the first half of 2018.
The following links provide information on the recent amendment of the Atlantic Power Williams Lake Air Permit 8808:
The support letters and other information on the amendment of the APWL air permit can be found below:
Letters of Support