After some five years of planning, four pre-qualified project proponents, and millions spent on preparation costs, Peel Regional Council abruptly voted to cancel the Peel Energy Recovery Centre as its go-to waste management measure for the future.
The surprise decision came Oct. 22, when Peel Regional Council voted 17-5 to cancel the procurement process for the waste incinerator, the cost of which ranged between $580 million to as much as $634 million. Instead, city staff is being directed to develop a new plan to take the region’s waste diversion from 45 to 75 per cent by 2034. It was determined that the energy recovery centre may no longer be feasible for this new target.
The proposed centre had been set to come online around 2021.
During the special meeting, the ballooning costs of the Peel Energy Recovery Centre became clearer to council. When originally proposed in November 2011, a 200,000 tons per year facility was said to cost more than $241 million or about $1.2 million per design ton. The 250,000 tone per year size finally recommended was now going to cost some $634 million or about $2.5 million per design ton, an increase of more than 100 per cent.
Following the special meeting, Mississauga’s Ward 5 councillor Carolyn Parrish released a statement about the energy centre’s cancellation.
“I had serious concerns about PERC because of its potential impact on the community of Malton, particularly in regards to increased truck traffic through already-congested routes as garbage trucks carried waste from all over Peel to the incinerator,” Parrish states on her political website.
“I worked hard to see that PERC was cancelled and look forward to working on Reduce, Reuse, Recycle programs to reduce our environmental footprint,” adds Parrish.
One delegate pointed out to council that the cost to produce a single megawatt of power at the new Green Electron Natural gas plant in St. Clair Township, Ont., would cost just $1.3 million per megawatt. The Peel Energy Recovery Centre, by comparison, would cost about $32 million per megawatt.
Meanwhile, the cost of landfill has fallen from a projected $169 per ton, including transportation, down to less than $130 per ton, a decrease of more than 35 per cent.
Peel Council’s decision came as the result of a motion introduced by Michael Palleschi, a Brampton Regional Councillor and newly-appointed Chair of Peel’s Waste Management Strategic Advisory Committee. The motion arose during a simple approval of minutes for a previous special meeting of regional council.
The decision to hold the latest special regional council meeting was driven by, among other forces, a high rate of turnover during the 2014 election, which saw 11 of 21 regional councillors replaced, as well as all three mayors, although two had previously served as regional councillors.
Councilor Palleschi noted the challenge in his motion, stating that:
“[…] The amount of garbage under a 75 per cent diversion target is projected to be in the order of 150,000 tonnes per year, and the composition of the garbage may be materially different under a 75 per cent diversion target than under a 60 per cent target.”