Construction continues on Pinnacle Pellet’s $25 to $30 million upgrade and expansion project in Williams Lake.

Director of Energy and Environment Paul Pawlowski says they started construction in August after having received an air permit amendment application by the province on Aug. 20.

“The project remains on schedule for commissioning in Q1 2020,” Pawlowski said.

“Right now we’re working on the dryer foundations and we’ll be starting assembly of the systems shortly. End of Q1 to mid Q1 (February-March) is when we anticipate that the commissioning activities will start taking place.”

Besides increasing the plant’s drying capacity to process a lot more of the wetter material that is currently available and upgrade some of the plant’s pollution control technology to best available technology, extensive paving is also included in the project.

“Our investment that we’re doing right now in Williams Lake is as a result of the changes to the fiber basket in the area and our needs to be able to essentially process a broader array of fiber sources which include more bush grind,” Pawlowski said.

“So the investment that we’re doing right now is going to allow our plant to take advantage of the available fiber in the region and increase our production capacity to about 270,000 metric tons and essentially reinforces our commitment to being part of the local community. So this is something that we’ve had on our radar for some time which we’ve prepared for, and right now we’re executing on the expansion in order to make sure that our plant is operating at peak performance levels and as sufficiently as possible.”

Williams Lake City Council unanimously approved a development permit for the project in mid-August pending issuance of an amended air quality permit from the Ministry of Environment and approval of a storm drainage design by the City’s Engineer.

“As part of our permit there’s a requirement for Pinnacle to participate in a local ambient monitoring program with other stakeholders in the community,” Pawlowski said.

“My understanding is that the Ministry of Environment is going to be leading that charge and essentially Pinnacle is going to be participating on that committee.”