08/05/2011 12:22 EDT | Updated 10/05/2011 05:12 EDT

Pulp to power: project turns Alberta forestry company waste into electricity

WHITECOURT, Alta. - A bioenergy project at an Alberta forestry company aims to turn organic material found in pulp mill wastewater into electricity.

The provincial government says the power generated by Millar Western Forest Products will help operate the company's mill in Whitecourt.

As a result, Millar Western will pull 6.2 fewer megawatts from the power grid — enough electricity to serve 6,500 homes a year.

The project is receiving $17.5 million in funding from the province.

The process involves pre-treating wastewater to produce a biogas that can generate electricity.

A company spokesman says the technology will lower the mill’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 50,000 tonnes a year, reduce water use and cut the production of organic waste in half.