It has been since November since the Montmorency-Oscoda-Alpena Solid Waste Authority has had an update about the proposed gasification plant at the landfill in Atlanta. Some of the board members were beginning to doubt whether or not the plan was moving forward.
On Friday, however, many of those doubts were laid to rest, as Recovered Energy Resources, Inc. Bill Chynoweth explained what has been going on behind the scenes the last four months.
Chynoweth said the company is continuing to work with DTE Energy. DTE is going to be in charge of operations and maintenance of the facility should it be constructed. The companies have a draft agreement in place and a finalized deal could follow soon.
Chynoweth also said funding has been acquired for not just the gasification facility, but also other potential projects that are part of RER's portfolio. He said RER is fortunate to find someone who wants to put money into our state.
"I hate to say it, but not many companies want to invest in Michigan. I have had people ask me what we are going to name the new lake after Michigan sinks," Chynoweth said. "We are a Michigan company and we feel very fortunate to have our investor on board. This project is first and foremost and also the most mature. Things are progressing."
In February, RER researched and contracted an engineering firm to spearhead the technical aspects and construction details of the project. The engineering firm is currently in the process of filling out permit applications to be submitted to the state. After that it would only be a short period of time until ground tests would done on site.
Chynoweth said it has been a long and winding road, but light is starting to appear at the end of the tunnel.
"It has been quite a path. It has been interesting and rewarding," Chynoweth said. "To get from A to Z there are a lot of requirements you have to reach before moving on, but we are really, really encouraged. I know it seems like there hasn't been much going on, but it has been very active behind the scenes."
Chairman Mike Hunt, a commissioner from Oscoda, said he was getting concerned that maybe there were problems and the plan would fall through.
"We all were getting very skeptical because we haven't had any real communication with them since November," Hunt said. "Personally I thought they were going to come today and say that the financial partner had backed out. Obviously this was much better news. It also looks like we might be on a little bit faster track than what we thought. it sounds encouraging, and we are anxious to move forward."
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Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.