Original Published on Sep 03, 2022 at 00:47
By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Epcor is proposing a manure processing plant to be located at the Cattleland Feedyards, which they are calling the Ardenode Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) facility.
The project is designed to take livestock manure and subject it to anerobic (without oxygen) digestion to produce biogas, which in turn will be upgraded to natural gas quality and injected into the natural gas grid.
The team hosted an open house for the project at the Nightingale Community Hall on Aug. 23 to introduce locals to the project.
“Epcor has a lot of experience in anaerobic digestion projects in our Edmonton and our Regina facilities and we’re looking to expand that into pre-production of renewable natural gas from livestock manure,” said Kevin Sonnenberg, senior manager of business development and marketing at Epcor Utilities.
The facility is proposed to be located in Wheatland County, 13 kilometres north of Strathmore, on a 20-acre site adjacent to the Cattleland Feedyard.
Should the project continue, the Ardenode RNG facility would receive manure, as well as other organic materials such as fats, oils and greases from a variety of local sources, which would be broken down into the biogas and digestate.
While the biogas would then be subjected to the removal of carbon dioxide and other impurities before becoming a natural gas, the digestate would be used as fertilizer for agricultural land.
“We’re in the the design stage and the development stage of this project and we’re really looking to understand how the community feels about this project,” said Sonnenberg.
“Where are some potential areas of concern and how can we address those concerns in a way that would make this project acceptable.”
Some residents of Nightingale and other locals to the area approached the open house and the Ardenode RNG project with hesitance and skepticism, remembering the adverse impacts to their community caused by a previously operational natural gas power plant in the same location during the 2000’s, run by EarthRenew.
While EarthRenew’s facility was in operation, many county residents complained about the debilitating smell caused by the facility, which caused some to be sick, and the value of properties in the area to decline.
“From what I understand, the EarthRenew process was basically burning manure to create a fertilizer and that was a much more open-to-air process and that was a unique process they were exploring,” said Sonnenberg. “Our project is very different in that we are putting manure into anaerobic digesters, which are environmentally sealed and do not generate any odors as part of the digestion process.”
He added Epcor understands and acknowledges the challenges residents have faced from the previous facility and has taken those concerns into designing the Ardenode RNG facility.
According to Sonnenberg, the project is still in the design stages and no paperwork regarding its development has yet been submitted to Wheatland County.