Ottawa’s environment committee approved an extension for Plasco Energy Group to secure financing for its waste-to-energy technology to Dec. 31, 2014 as councillors warned their patience with the company is wearing thin.
The motion must be approved by council before the extension is confirmed.
The Ottawa company was originally supposed to have its financial agreements ready by the end of March, but when it missed that deadline council agreed to extend to the end of August.
The committee passed with the motion with Coun. Peter Hume dissenting.
Several councillors expressed concern that a longer delay would potentially mean losing the chance to take advantage of a competitor’s technology.
“Time is money,” said Coun. Scott Moffatt, adding “we don't have a guarantee that Plasco will work.”
Plasco CEO Rod Bryden said that the delay is coming from a lack of debt financing in the project, explaining investors have been reluctant because "this is the first multiple-unit commercial application of that project."
As in past meetings, however, he expressed confidence that the technology would be ready in time provided that the money becomes available from external investors. Current funding is coming from equity financing.
The committee’s decision was in line with a staff report that recommended an extension. City manager Kent Kirkpatrick, when speaking to councillors, said staff made the recommendation because there is no technology that is as close to commercialization as that of Plasco’s.
Extending the financing would have no impact on the planned operations date of March 31, 2016, he said.
Additionally, staff was directed to come up with a list of technological alternatives if Plasco’s technology does not come through by the next deadline.
“I see this as the ‘patience is running out’ motion,” said Coun. Maria McRae, who chairs the committee. “If at the end of extension period we don't see progress, Coun. Moffat’s motion directs staff to see what is going out there.”
She added, however, that the city absolutely wants to see Plasco to succeed in its venture.
Plasco’s technology is intended to divert waste from the Trail Road landfill facility, which is expected under current rates to be filled by about 2035.