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 British Columbia. 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 and roadside logging debris, which is provided under short-term supply agreements with various suppliers.
APWL had a long-term Electricity Purchase Agreement (EPA) with BC Hydro that expired on April 1, 2018. In December 2017, APWL and BC Hydro agreed to amend and extend the EPA to June 30, 2019, which was subsequently extended to September 30, 2019. The short-term extension of the EPA was approved by the BC Utilities Commission in May 2019. Also in May 2019, Atlantic Power commenced discussions with BC Hydro on a new EPA, which are continuing and are expected to be concluded by the time the short-term extension expires.
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. These potential changes to the fuel mix would require installation of a new fuel shredder at the facility, although APWL will not invest in a new shredder during the short-term extension period of the EPA but only in conjunction with a long-term extension, should one be agreed upon.
As part of the planning process for a potential new shredder, APWL sought changes to its existing air permit. In September 2016, the Ministry of Environment (MOE) approved an amendment to the facility’s existing permit that would allow the use of a broader mix of fuels, including rail ties. The air permit amendment was appealed to the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB), which upheld the permit amendment with modifications, including a limit of 35% of the fuel mix from rail ties on an annual basis and 50% on a daily basis.