Canadian-based EverGen has raised $65 million to advance renewable natural gas infrastructure in that country. The company’s Co-Founder and CEO Chase Edgelow sat with Waste360 to discuss the business’ growth to date, vision for the future, and how it goes about evaluating projects. Edgelow also peers into EverGen’s interesting partnerships with indigenous communities.
Waste360: Tell the story of how EverGen broke into this space and how you are forging ahead.
Edgelow: EverGen was created to address two critical sustainability problems: finding better ways to manage organic waste to reduce emissions and finding ways to meet increased needs and demands for clean energy. When we launched our platform in early 2020, we were fortunate to assemble (through the early stages of COVID with travel restricted) some of the top minds in the space with a combination of organics processing and RNG [renewable natural gas] sector expertise, and have been growing ever since.
We listed as “EVGN” on the TSX-V in August this year and are poised to continue to grow through the expansion of our existing facilities and the addition of projects across Canada. To date, we’ve raised over 65 million dollars and now have three operating facilities including the Fraser Valley Biogas Project which was British Columbia’s first facility to produce RNG. Ultimately, our goal is to close the gap in renewable energy infrastructure in Canada.
Waste360: What is unique about the renewable energy landscape in Canada in terms of renewable natural gas?
Edgelow: In Canada, we can build infrastructure with certainty of long-term contracted revenue. This is different from the U.S. model, which is reliant on carbon credits which have a pricing mechanism that can be difficult to predict. What’s unique about this landscape and industry in Canada comes from what we see as a really strong tailwind for our business: the strength of the Canadian regulated gas utilities in terms of providing long-term offtake agreements for energy derived from these RNG projects.
Waste360: Can you describe your assets and your Canada-first platform?
Edgelow: We own and operate three facilities in British Columbia. Two of them are existing organic waste processing facilities where we see an opportunity to build out the infrastructure and expand the facilities to be able to produce RNG. We also own the province’s original RNG facility that has been producing for over a decade into Fortis BC’s pipeline network, Fraser Valley Biogas.
We have dedicated ourselves to focusing on solving these problems in Canada first. We are headquartered in Vancouver, BC and have established a strong presence here. On top of that, we are also working on and assessing projects across the country where we see an opportunity to replicate what has been successful with our existing assets. We process over 100,000 tons annually of organic waste across our existing facilities and are significantly expanding this capability. EverGen is committed to expanding our network to meet the needs of waste producers and utilities in other provinces. Our relationships are key to us, with dozens of municipal, commercial, and agricultural partners.
Waste360: I understand you are evaluating projects in Alberta, Quebec, and Ontario. How do you decide which projects to evaluate?
Edgelow: We look at projects based on a defined set of criteria. What we like about these jurisdictions in Canada specifically is that they have many of the same dynamics that we see in British Columbia that allow us to de-risk and “infra-tize.” What this means is that there’s a significant opportunity to invest in renewable infrastructure to bring more sophisticated operational flexibility to existing projects in our space. Generally speaking, when evaluating projects we assess the size of projects, ability to scale, the potential risks and returns, among other factors.
Our ultimate goal is to continue to expand our footprint and fill the gap that we see between existing infrastructure and what's required to meet stated goals—both on the waste management and the renewable energy side of the equation.
Waste360: Please discuss your acquisition of RNG producer Fraser Valley Biogas in Abbotsford, BC.
Edgelow: This is a project that we had our eye on for quite some time. Our team including our COO Sean Mezei has deep historical knowledge in the RNG space, having been involved in over 80 RNG projects worldwide. What we saw in Fraser Valley Biogas was an undercapitalized project with immense potential for a very strong expansion project. With our technical expertise, operatorship, and capital investment we knew we could materially increase the productivity of this facility.
Waste360: According to the Canadian BioGas Association, Canada is only utilizing a small portion of its available RNG. What will it take in the way of money, work, and time to improve infrastructure to fix this?
Edgelow: It takes environmental, social, and governance-focused companies that are truly dedicated to understanding the technical aspects of these projects and have unique experience in the space. We need companies that have built the expertise in-house to develop RNG projects. There's a massive opportunity here and only a few companies that can take advantage of it who can do so because they're situated in the right place at the right time and have the necessary expertise.
Waste360: How important is your relationship with the community? How are you involved with First Nations communities?
Partnerships are tremendously important to our business, whether it's partnerships with large provincial gas utilities, municipalities, or corporations to process their waste. Or working with local farmers to provide organic fertilizers and soils. We work alongside communities like the City of Vancouver, who have ambitious circular economy and zero waste goals. Together we are able to re-imagine what is possible from turning everyday food waste into energy and reducing carbon footprint.
Among the partnerships we are most proud of are those with our indigenous communities. Our focus here is to support reconciliation, which often involves supporting economic sovereignty through partnerships and job creation. At our Sea to Sky Soils project in Pemberton, we have a long-term partnership with the Lil’wat Nation to exist as one of the largest employers in the community, and further their Nations economic goals by operating on leased land. We are committed to a dedicated workforce that's over 80 percent indigenous. And work with the Squamish and Lil’Wat nation to provide job training and growth opportunities that offer a positive impact on the environment.