CUENCA DIGESTWork begins on biogas electric generation project at the landfill; Expat Coopera investors take their case to the city

Jul 13, 2013

Work began this week to turn Cuenca’s garbage into electricity. It is the first project of its kind in Ecuador.

The city of Cuenca will drill 26 wells during the first phase of the project to capture biogases generated from waste in the city landfill at Pichacay, 14 miles from Cuenca. The wells will be drilled in a four hectare area.

According to Cesar Arevalo, director of the Cuenca municipal sanitation service (EMAC), the drilling process will take about two weeks and could face challenges and possible delays. “We are not sure what we will drill into. There are plastics, tires, metals and other debris in the landfill that could change our schedule.” The city landfill receives about 400 tons of garbage per day.

The $2 million project, when completed, will provide electricity to 8,000 homes, Arevalo said.

Arevalo said that the project is important not only for the electricity it will generate. "It will also reduce greenhouse gases that currently escape the landfill and pass into the atmosphere.”

Expat Coopera investors ask the city for help

A group of expat investors with deposits of more than $10,000 in the failed financial cooperative Coopera received little encouragement in a meeting with the Cuenca city council on Friday.

Carlos Heredia, the group’s lawyer, presented several proposals to officials, including one to suspend the dissolution process currently underway and recapitalize Coopera at city expense. A second suggestion would have the city taking over Coopera facilities and turning them over to investors.

The council said it will hold a workshop to look into the matter but cautioned that their options are limited.

One councilman said that federal authorities are in charge of the dissolution and investigation and that the city has no authority at this point.

“I think we’re whistling Dixie if we think the government is going to bail us out,” said an expat who attended the meeting and asked not to be identified.

Accounts with Coopera, or Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito Coopera Ltda., were uninsured by the national banking insurance program.

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