Innovative landfill project lauded for green benefits

Credits are adding up for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District – thanks to the Salmon Arm landfill.

Eco-energy: Terasen Gas employees

Eco-energy: Terasen Gas employees

Credits are adding up for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District – thanks to the Salmon Arm landfill.

The regional district earned national recognition in the form of a Sustainable Communities Award from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities last year for an innovative project that captures methane from the completed portion of the landfill.

This accomplishment is part of the reason British Columbia has already begun profiting from the province’s investment in establishing a low-carbon economy.

And there is a wealth of future economic opportunities for B.C. in global carbon markets, according to two new reports released Thursday by Pacific Carbon Trust, a provincial Crown corporation.

The first report offers an economic analysis showing how B.C.’s investment in carbon offsets is supporting jobs and generating revenues, and the second report shows a future path forward beyond the province’s borders.

At the Salmon Arm landfill, preventing methane from being released into the atmosphere, not only ensures better air quality, but capturing it will generate enough natural gas to provide heat and hot water to many area homes through a Terasen Gas pipeline, says Darcy Mooney, CSRD deputy manager environment and engineering services.

That phase of the project got underway Monday morning when pipes arrived at the landfill.

“Although burning the methane gets us carbon credits, the idea of capturing the heat through a natural gas pipeline offsets natural gas requirements for up to 500 homes – or five to eight per cent of the homes in Salmon Arm,” says Mooney of the partnership with Terasen Gas.

Mooney says it will take another two or three weeks to install, test and commission the pipeline.

“By the end of October, we should be diverting the upgraded landfill gas.”

Mooney says the regional district began obtaining carbon credits in February 2011 when a flare at the landfill began to burn the gas.

By the end of 2011, CSRD had removed the equivalent of 6,907 tonnes of carbon dioxide, earning the regional district an equal number of carbon credits.

“Our forecasts are showing we’re on track for 9,000 in 2012,” he said. “The other interesting thing is in our agreement with Pacific Carbon Trust, CSRD and member municipalities can purchase carbon credits from the regional district and become carbon neutral by the end of 2012.”

The Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) report, Economic Analysis of British Columbia Carbon Offset Projects released last week shows that 31 carbon offset projects in B.C. will have stimulated approximately $317 million in capital spending between 2008 and 2012.

“The PwC report found that these 31 carbon reduction projects contributed an estimated $243 million of GDP to the economy,” said Bruce McIntyre, partner and leader of the PwC report. “We also estimated that this activity will generate $49 million in federal, provincial and municipal tax revenues between 2008 and 2012.”

Back at home, Mayor Nancy Cooper, who sits on the regional district board, says, the local landfill project has had a significant long-term positive impact on the environment and local economy.

“Managing the project ourselves, and utilizing as many local contractors as possible, this project employed over 30 companies, maximizing the capital dollars retained in the local economy,” she says.