New Courtice incinerator hits further delays


CLARINGTON — Clarington’s brand new energy-from-waste facility will probably be delayed a second time because the boilers aren’t functioning properly and the ongoing startup period could cost Durham Region an extra $1 million.

“I would rather see it delayed and performed right than rushed,” explained Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster.

The Durham York Energy Centre centre, situated in Courtice, was scheduled to be completely operational on Dec. 14, 2014. Now the Durham York Energy Centre is not predicted to be in complete working order before the past quarter of 2015.

The significant systems of the EFW facility have been analyzed. The boiler temperature is high enough for the combustion process however the steam temperature isn’t high enough, and officials aren’t certain what the issue is, says Durham’s functions commissioner, Cliff Curtis.

The steam temperature has to be high enough to drive the turbine-generator. If the steam is too cool it may damage the turbine.

“It’s like running a car without oil,” said Mr. Curtis.

Covanta, the company operating and building the facility for Durham and York regions, has taken the boilers down for modifications, based on Mr. Curtis. It’s expected to take three weeks for the repairs and modifications. Then there’ll be a four-week demonstration period, followed by a 30-day approval test.

“We are not getting the temperature we expected from this boiler. Once we get up the temperature, I believe everything will fall into place,” said Mr. Curtis. “It’s Covanta’s difficulty to provide us the product that plays the way that they said, so they are likely to take the time that they require.”

The delay implies additional consultant costs for building management, legal advice and baseline ambient air monitoring. A Durham Region works report said Durham’s share of the additional costs is $1 million, which can be provided by a temporary draw the solid waste management reserve fund.

“What is the final price likely to look like?” Said Clarington Regional Councillor Joe Neal, who added he has concerns regarding the emissions meeting the Ministry of Environment rules. “There are definitely issues with getting it started out.”

Since Jan. 16, Durham has been charging Covanta a 10,000-a-day late fee for each and every day the EFW facility is not fully operational. The invoice was sent to Covanta, however, it has not been paid yet, according to Mr. Curtis. It had been part of a testing stage before the centre opens completely.

Durham cancelled landfill contracts and started sending garbage into the Courtice centre. Some garbage was burnt in the EFW plant throughout the test phase, without generating power to the grid. Covanta has also been sending the trash to its incinerator in New York state, or landfills from the Niagara region.

Until the EFW facility is up and running, the Region simply pays Covanta half price of this agreed upon per-tonne charge. But, Durham isn’t earning any money before the plant is fully operational and promoting electricity back on the grid.

“We are still on budget. I would rather be getting power sales on the grid,” said Mr. Curtis.

The plant building is arriving in slightly under budget, according to the functions commissioner.

There are a number of loose ends that could wind up costing Durham Region more money. There’s still debate with former property owners on the value of this land expropriated for the center, and a ruling is not expected until fall of next year. The final price for the utility building and connection costs is expected in coming weeks. The baseline ambient air monitoring runs until the EFW facility is operational, so the delay in opening signifies an ongoing monitoring price.

“There’s some minor cost over-runs on a few of the smaller things but generally we’re financially on course to bring this on budget and we anticipate getting it on line by the end of the calendar year,” said Mr. Curtis. A vital part of the economic case for the energy-from-waste facility is dependent upon it generating electrical power earnings.

The Durham York Energy Centre is designed to process up to 140,000 tonnes of waste each year, and generate 17.5 gross megawatts of renewable energy — enough to power between 10,000 and 12,000 homes. A key part of the economic case for the energy-from-waste facility depends on it generating electrical power revenue.


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