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Shuttered Fort St. James bioenergy to get new owners

Nak’adzli Development Corp. part of three-partner consortium that aims to restart plant by mid-December
A Fort St. James bioenergy plant, which was shut down in July, could be back in business.

A now-shuttered bioenegy plant in Fort St. James could soon be back up and running.

The 40-megawatt biomass power plant, which generated power from wood waste, is owned by Veolia and Fengate Asset Management. The plant began operating in 2017, but In July this year, the owners announced they were no longer operating the plant, which had employed 38 people.

BioNorth Energy, a joint venture between Vancouver’s Arrow Transportation Systems, the Nak’adzli Development Corp., and Dallas-based Nexus Program Management Group plans to acquire the plant and restart it.

Tim Bell, vice president of Arrow Transportation and president of BioNorth Energy, said he expects the deal to close November 15.

It’s not clear why Veolia-Fengate decided to shut it down.

“They had challenges with fibre, they had plant challenges - there was a host of reasons,” Bell said. “I actually don’t know the inner workings of why it went sideways, but we have a complete recommissioning plan and fibre strategy.”

Bell said he could not disclose the price of the acquisition but said the capital cost of building the plant was roughly $250 million.

The plant still has 26 years left of an electricity purchase agreement with BC Hydro, and there is a forest licence associated with it.

“We’ve secured fibre from the local sawmills,” Bell said, adding that the plan for fibre also includes “going into the bush” and grinding wood waste left from forestry operations.

Forest fires in the area in recent years have also left a substantial amount of low-value wood debris that can be salvaged, Bell said. Local First Nations, the Nak’adzli Whut’en, have a forest licence that will supply some of the fibre, Bell said.

“There’s going to be lots of jobs for them, in the plant and as suppliers,” Bell said.

The plant itself will employ 35 people, and another 100 would be employed working on the fibre side of the business

Bell said the company expected the acquisition to close November 15, and hopes to see the plant restarted by the middle of December.