Financing closes on biomass power plant in British Columbia

By Dalkia | November 22, 2013

Fort St. James Green Energy Limited Partnership recently announced that it has closed on its financing for the Fort St. James Green Energy Project, a $235 million, 40-megawatt (MW), state-of-the-art, biomass-fired electricity generation facility located near Fort St. James, British Columbia. The project will sell power under a 30-year electricity purchase agreement to BC Hydro and, with financing in place, has now moved into its construction phase with commercial operation expected in summer 2016.

Fort St. James Green Energy Project's developers and equity investors are Fengate Capital Management Ltd. and Dalkia Canada Inc. Project debt financing of over $175 million was sourced from five leading project finance banks: Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (coordinating bank), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, National Bank of Canada (administrative agent), Natixis and Rabobank.

The project will consume approximately 200,000 metric tons of dry biomass fuel annually to generate more than 285,000 MWh of renewable electricity, enough to power more than 40,000 homes for a year. Fuel for the facility will be sourced from a combination of road side debris and local saw mill waste supported by a 20-year, bio-energy harvest licence issued by the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

The Fort St. James Green Energy Project will use state-of-the-art emissions reduction equipment. Overall, through the shutdown of saw mill beehive burners in the area and reduced burning of roadside debris, the project will result in substantially improved air quality in the region. Being air-cooled, the project will use little water and by offsetting fossil generation, it will result in GHG emission reductions of 95,000 metric tons a year.

The facility will be operated by Dalkia under a long-term operations and maintenance agreement. Fuel will be provided by Dalkia, Fengate and local partners under a long-term fuel supply agreement.

Construction will result in approximately 250 jobs at its peak, and operations will require 22 full-time staff. In addition, fuel sourcing operations will result in direct and indirect employment for an estimated 60 people over the life of the project.

"This is a tremendous investment for our clients, which include British Columbia pension funds," said George Theodoropoulos, managing director of Fengate Capital Management. "The Fort St. James Green Energy Project will provide a reliable and firm supply of clean energy to BC Hydro while supporting the local forest industry, delivering new jobs and significant economic, environmental and social benefits for British Columbians."

"As a leader in Europe's bioenergy sector, Dalkia brings considerable expertise to the Fort St. James Green Energy Project," says Fadi Oubari, vice president and head of development and western operations for Dalkia Canada. "We look forward to working with the community of Fort St. James, local saw mills, loggers and First Nations to create more value from local wood resources by generating clean and renewable electricity."

Dalkia and Fengate are also developing an identical 40 MW, biomass-fueled, electricity generating facility in Merritt, British Columbia under a similar commercial structure. Financial close for the Merritt Green Energy Project is expected early in the new year, and construction is expected to begin in spring 2014.