Feds announce funds for Waterloo region green energy project at waste plants

Four Liberal MPs announced funding for a new green energy project at three Waterloo region wastewater treatment plants.

Four Liberal MPs make announcement amid provincial cuts to green energy projects

MPs Bryan May, left, and Bardish Chagger speak with Region of Waterloo Chair Ken Seiling after an announcement of a $5 million low-interest loan and a $750,000 grant by the federal government for a green energy project at three wastewater treatment plants. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The federal government has announced it will help fund a series of green energy projects in Waterloo region, amid recent provincial cuts to other green energy projects in the area.

The Region of Waterloo is spending $20.5 million on a co-generation project that will see new technology installed at the wastewater treatment plants in Waterloo, Kitchener and Galt.

The MPs announced a $5 million low-interest loan for the project and a grant of $750,000.

The region's chief administrative officer, Mike Murray, explained the process takes biogas, a natural byproduct of the process that right now goes off into atmosphere, and make it into electricity and a by-product of generating electricity is heat.

"And then we use both the electricity and the heat as part of the wastewater treatment process. So there's a whole bunch of benefits to it," he said. "There will be significant electricity cost savings because wastewater treatment plants use a lot of electricity. This will reduce the electricity demand and the ongoing operating costs for electricity at those plants." 

The low-interest loan and grant from the federal government through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities green municipal fund will also save the region $1 million on capital cost of project.

"That's five per cent of the capital cost and that's five per cent … that water-wastewater rate-payers in Waterloo region don't have to pay," Murray said.

Province cuts renewable energy projects

Cambridge MP Bryan May made the announcement Thursday with three other Liberal MPs from Waterloo region.

He said he knows the Ontario government has cancelled 758 renewable energy projects, including a hydro generation plant at the Park Hill Road dam in Cambridge, but funding green energy projects in Waterloo region makes business sense.

He said he thinks the province might reconsider the decision in the future.

"We're willing to sit down and work with [the provincial government], but I think when they hear the messaging from the corporate side — not just the political side — it's going to be really challenging for them, I think, to kind of go backwards and not follow us forward," May said.

He said he has heard from Cambridge businesses who have made the move to reduce their carbon footprint, and it's made financial sense.

"This isn't just the right thing to do in terms of moving to a green economy, it is the smart thing to do," May said.

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic chats with MPs Marwan Tabbara and Raj Saini after a funding announcement at the Region of Waterloo headquarters Thursday morning. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

'Necessary investments'

The other three MPs at Thursday's announcement were Raj Saini, Bardish Chagger and Marwan Tabbara. They all said moving forward with green energy projects is the right move.

Chagger said the region has been a leader when it comes to projects that transition to a cleaner, greener economy.

"What's good for the environment will also be good for the economy, and with this investment, I think it's very important to also reduce our carbon footprint, but more importantly, to make the necessary investments that will take us into the next generation," Saini said.

Tabbara, who also announced a $750,000 grant for RBJ Schlegal Park which includes a storm-water management facility later Thursday morning, said he recently took a trip with friends to Detroit, where infrastructure is crumbling.

He said projects like this show why investment is so important.

"I said, 'Well, which community would you rather live in? Would you rather live in communities that have infrastructure that is up-to-date and not crumbling?,'" he said.

"We're getting more people investing here, more people coming to our region and that's what we want to see. And with that, there's a price for that. So it's about the cost you're getting — the bang for your buck — and if you're getting a good deal on that, this is the kind of community you want to live in."


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