Although not on the scale of the $1.2 billion clean coal plant, SaskPower unveiled another project that should have a positive impact on the environment last week.
The Crown corporation held a ceremony Aug. 21 to officially open its $21.2 million fly ash loadout and storage facility, which is located next to the Boundary Dam Power Station. The new terminal will eventually allow SaskPower to more than double the amount of fly ash it is able to sell.
Lehigh Hanson Materials will handle the marketing and sale of the fly ash after signing a 10-year agreement with SaskPower earlier this year.
SaskPower CEO Robert Watson said the facility will have benefits not only for both companies but also the environment.
"There came an opportunity talking with Lehigh to sell more, and of course the more we sell the less we have to store here in the ponds and it just becomes a good news story," Watson said. "One tonne of fly ash in the use of the production of cement gives you one tonne reduction of carbon dioxide."
On the financial side, Watson said with the previous fly ash facility at BDPS, SaskPower was annually selling around 110,000 tonnes of fly ash, the fine powder created during the coal combustion process. With the new facility they can ramp that figure up substantially.
"We thought there was an opportunity to sell the fly ash and we talked to Lehigh and there is a much better opportunity to sell the fly ash even more far afield," Watson said. "We produce about 275,000 tonnes total of fly ash out of Boundary Dam, we sell about 110,000 now. This facility will handle all the 275,000 tonnes in the future and Lehigh will ramp up their sales to get up to selling it all."
Watson estimated at its previous production level, SaskPower was netting an income of $6 million on Boundary Dam fly ash. With the ability to sell more fly ash, he projects they will be able to double their income and pay for the facility in "just over three years."
Lehigh president and CEO Jim Derkatch was on hand for last week's unveiling and congratulated SaskPower on the construction of what he called a world class facility. Derkatch added that he is looking forward to their continued partnership.
"We like to think that we are going to bring some things to the table," Derkatch said. "In our particular region, we service Western Canada and northwestern United States but our footprint goes across North America as well."
Derkatch said Lehigh has traditionally moved fly ash from Boundary Dam to locations throughout Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Since signing the deal with SaskPower, they have expanded into Alberta, B.C. and Washington state.
"(Pasco, Wa.) is in the southeast corner of Washington and it's about 2,000 kilometres by rail from here and that is where the fly ash is going right now. So it's starting to make its way into other parts of North America. We are going to be a good partner and we are going to work really hard to make this a huge success for everyone."
The facility itself is an impressive structure and will allow SaskPower to keep up to 5,000 tonnes of fly ash on hand in its terminal. It is also a completely automated process and will allow trucks to fully load in "one and a half to two minutes," said John Lebersback, SaskPower's vice-president of power production.
While fly ash is a principal component in creating concrete, it is also used in structures such as bridge decks and pipes.