Zwierschke was on hand with Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti and a large group of local business and political leaders Friday at Roberta Bondar Place, where Orazietti formally announced the province has reached an agreement through the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) with Elementa Group Inc. to build a new, renewable energy generating facility in Sault Ste. Marie.
The Elementa group is still awaiting provincial granting of an Environmental Certificate of Authorization (ECA), but Zwierschke is optimistic that will come in the near future, enabling construction of the facility to start by the fall of this year.
At its facility, Elementa will use an innovative, non-incineration gasification process that transforms municipal solid waste into energy.
It is expected the $55 million project will significantly extend the lifespan of the City's municipal landfill site.
Elementa's technology will add 9.5 megawatts (MW) of electricity to the provincial power grid, enough to generate power for 10,000 homes.
The OPA and Elementa have signed a 20-year contract.
Zwierschke stated he was not at liberty to disclose how much money Elementa will receive from the OPA for transmission of electricity to the provincial power grid throughout the 20-year contract.
Orazietti told Friday's audience that construction of the Elementa facility will create approximately 100 construction jobs.
Zwierschke said construction of the facility is expected to start by the fall, and once completed and operating by 2016, it will employ 25 to 30 people with full-time, high-paying jobs in Sault Ste. Marie.
"I want to commend Elementa for being persistent (in bringing the project into being)," Orazietti said.
Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce President Mark Barsanti, who has quickly established himself as a champion of local entrepreneurship, commended Zwierschke for his entrepreneurial vision.
Zwierschke, in turn, thanked Orazietti, municipal politicians and City staff and the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (SSMEDC) for their ongoing support of Elementa's vision.
Apart from providing electricity for the provincial grid, Zwierschke stated: "We will take on metals, and that will help the City with its recycling, and over 40,000 tonnes of CO2 will be removed from the atmosphere to help protect the climate."
University of Toronto and world-class firms such as Caterpillar will collaborate with Elementa on the project, Zwierschke said.
"The technology can also produce clean hydrogen, fuel for future vehicles, and renewable jet fuel, green chemicals…the opportunities are vast," Zwierschke stated.
The facility will be the first of its kind in North America, and, as Zwierschke told reporters, "be a proving ground for future technologies that will be developed here in Sault Ste. Marie."
Elementa's efforts for now, Zwierschke said, are focussed on Sault Ste. Marie, but the firm has a view to expanding in various markets around the world, with plans for about 20 plants over the next eight to 10 years.
An abridged release from Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti follows.