Alberta biogas company hopes to turn manure into money with government help

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – A company in southern Alberta hopes to turn manure and other farm waste into money, with government help.

Lethbridge Biogas LP says its $30 million plant, which produces electricity, is the largest project of its type in Canada.

Stefan Michalski, a company spokesman, says it can make enough electricity to power 2,800 homes, and has the capacity to expand.

He says the anaerobic digester plant is already selling the power it generates into Alberta’s electricity grid.

Michalski says the private company is being financially supported by a $6.4-million grant from Alberta Energy and a $5 million loan from Alberta’s Agriculture Financial Services Corporation.

It is also received $8.2 million from Alberta’s Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC).

“The returns on these facilities can’t compete with oil and gas so we needed to find partners who were interested in this type of venture,” Michalski said Wednesday at the opening of the plant.

The CCEMC is a non-profit corporation that gets its money from a fee that companies pay the Alberta government when they exceed greenhouse gas emission limits.

CCEMC estimates the plant will reduce Alberta’s carbon dioxide emissions by more than 224,000 tonnes by 2020.

Lethbridge Biogas says it has the capacity to process more than 100,000 tonnes of farm waste per year — enough to fill more than 3,300 tanker trucks.