Saskatchewan tribe to co-locate biomass power and pellet plants

By Lisa Gibson | October 04, 2011

The Meadow Lake Tribal Council held a community ceremony in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Oct. 3 to announce the development of a 36-megawatt biomass power plant just outside of town. The council even used a wood pellet barbecue for the event’s meal, fueled by wood pellets from its new pellet mill on the site of the proposed power plant.

The pellet plant has not yet begun commercial operations but soon will, and construction is expected to begin on the power plant in March or April of next year, according to Dwayne Lasas, vice chief of the Meadow Lake Tribal Council. The plants will use residue from the nearby NorSask Forest Products Mill, also owned by the Meadow Lake Tribal Council, but could also use waste from a nearby pulp and paper mill. “They have waste piling up there,” Lasas said, adding that the amount of feedstock used will vary. “There will be no shortage of fuel.”

Material that is too light for the biomass boiler will be sent on a conveyor belt from the power plant directly to the neighboring pellet mill, Lasas said, saving money and reducing truck use for the operations. “There’s kind of a synergy happening here,” he said. “There will be nothing going to waste.” The pellet mill will begin producing just a small amount of pellets, but expansion is in the future. “It is smaller, but will be expanding,” Lasas said. “I think the world is really ready for that type of fuel.”

The $137 million plus biomass power plant has a 25-year power purchase agreement with SaskPower and Lasas said there is no concern about endusers for the pellets. “There’s already a demand for our product,” he said, citing new projects such as biomass boiler installations at schools in Saskatchewan. “We might not even be able to meet that demand.”

The power plant, dubbed Meadow Lake Bioenergy Centre, has been in the works for just over two years and will provide power for more than 30,000 homes, jobs in the construction phase for more than 300 people and permanent jobs for 25 more.