New Courtice incinerator hits further delays

CLARINGTON — Clarington’s new energy-from-waste facility will be delayed a second time since the boilers are not operating properly and the continuing startup period could cost Durham Region an extra $1 million.

“I’d rather see it delayed and done right than rushed,” said Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster.

The Durham York Energy Centre facility, located in Courtice, was scheduled to be fully operational on Dec. 14, 2014. Now the Durham York Energy Centre is not expected to be in full working order before the last quarter of 2015.

The significant systems of the EFW facility have been analyzed. The boiler temperature is high enough for the combustion process but the steam temperature isn’t high enough, and officials are not sure what the issue is, says Durham’s works commissioner, Cliff Curtis.

The steam temperature needs to be high enough to drive the turbine-generator. If the steam is too cool it may damage the turbine.

“It’s like running a car without oil,” said Mr. Curtis.

Covanta, the business building and operating the facility for Durham and York regions, has taken down the boilers for alterations, according to Mr. Curtis. It’s expected to take three weeks for the repairs and alterations. Then there’ll be a four-week demonstration period, followed by a 30-day acceptance test.

“We are not getting the temperature we expected out of the boiler. “It’s Covanta’s problem to provide us the product that performs the way they said, so they’re going to take the time they require.”

The delay means added consultant costs for construction management, legal advice and baseline ambient air monitoring. A Durham Region works report stated Durham’s share of the extra costs is $1 million, which can be provided by a temporary draw on the solid waste management reserve fund.

“What’s the last cost going to look like?” Stated Clarington Regional Councillor Joe Neal, who added that he still has concerns about the emissions meeting the Ministry of Environment rules.

Since Jan. 16, Durham has been charging Covanta a $10,000-a-day late fee for each day the EFW facility is not fully operational. The invoice was sent to Covanta, but it hasn’t been paid yet, according to Mr. Curtis.

In mid-February, the incinerator started burning its first haul of curbside garbage. It was a part of a testing phase before the centre opens completely.

Durham cancelled landfill contracts and started sending crap to the Courtice facility. Some garbage was burned at the EFW plant during the evaluation phase, without generating power to the grid. Covanta has also been sending the trash to its incinerator in New York state, or landfills in the Niagara region.

Until the EFW facility is up and running, the Region only pays Covanta half cost of the agreed upon per-tonne fee. However, Durham isn’t earning any money until the plant is fully operational and selling electricity back on the grid.

“We are still on budget. I’d rather be getting electricity sales on the grid,” said Mr. Curtis.

The plant construction is coming in slightly under budget, according to the works commissioner.

There are a few loose ends that could wind up costing Durham Region more cash. There’s still debate with former property owners on the value of the land expropriated for the center, and a ruling is not expected until fall of next year. The final cost for the utility construction and connection costs is expected in coming months. The baseline ambient air monitoring runs until the EFW facility is operational, so the delay in opening signifies an ongoing monitoring cost.

“There’s some small cost over-runs on a few of the smaller items but generally we’re financially on track to bring this on budget and we look forward to having it on line by the end of the year,” said Mr. Curtis.


The Durham York Energy Centre is designed to process up to 140,000 tonnes of waste each year, and generate 17.5 gross megawatts of renewable energy — enough to electricity between 10,000 and 12,000 houses. A vital part of the financial case for the energy-from-waste facility is dependent upon it generating electric power revenue.