ATLANTA -The Montmorency-Oscoda-Solid Waste Management Authority is currently in a binding contract with Recovered Energy Resources, which forbids the landfill from entering into another developmental deal with another company.
RER has been working with the landfill for more than four years in an attempt to construct a gasification plant at the landfill and requested a 180-day agreement to iron out details before building starts. The contract does not exclude the landfill from exploring other options, however, should RER fail to obtain the proper permitting or break ground in a reasonable amount of time.
During Friday's landfill board meeting, Green Power Technologies made a presentation to the board and expressed interest in working together to build a facility that would produce bio-mass products such as pellets, which can be burned to produce heat from the trash at the dump.
David Thal, president of Green Power, and CEO James Hebert explained to the commissioners how the plant would remove valuable commodities from the trash, and the remainder would be compressed into briquets or bails and then sold to industrial sources in the area, whom the company is currently negotiating with. Thal said as regulations aimed at reducing air pollution become more stringent, the product the plant will produce will be in high demand.
"If you see what the EPA is doing and how it is forcing these coal plants to close because the economics aren't there for them to go in and install the equipment, they need to meet the regulations. If they could burn our product and have it be 80 percent as efficient, it is still better than having to shut it down. That is a huge market," he said. "We produce the bio-mass, and then we can densify it to however is requested. It can be in a briquet, a bale or a pellet."
Because the landfill is currently in an exclusive deal with RER, there were no serious conversations about cost, or how the plant would be operated. If the gasification plant plans fall through, however, and the commissioners choose to pursue a new path, the bio-mass plant could produce as many as 25 jobs on site and spin off jobs in areas such as haulers to move the commodities after they are sorted through.
Alpena County Commissioners Cam Habermehl and Lyle VanWormer had been introduced to Green Power after Target Alpena Director Jim Klarich made contact with the company about possible ventures in Alpena. Habermehl said in today's economic climate, the production of bio-mass may be more appealing than having a plant built that would produce electricity.
"We met with these gentlemen a few months back when they were sort of feeling out the waters to see if they had any interest, and we were impressed with what they could offer," Habermehl said. "It is my own opinion that they are probably a more viable option than the other one mainly because from everything I hear nobody is looking to buy power right now. If nobody is buying power, then building a power plant really doesn't make any sense. It looks like they did their homework and have possible buyers lined up for the product."
The presentation went well enough where the two sides are set to meet again after the RER scenario plays out. Habermehl said there is interest in the bio-mass production plant, but it will have to be put on hold, at least for the time being.
"We have to wait for the balance of the 180-day, exclusive agreement with RER to expire and figure out what we want to do with them, and I'm not saying they are still not an option because they are, then this company will have to come back with more numbers and do a more in-depth presentation and then decide which way we want to go."
In other business, the commissioners discussed what can be done to protect the money the landfill currently has in financial institutions. Administrator Sandy Cunningham said the FDIC only insures up to $250,000 for each customer at a bank. The commissioners want to deposit the money in other institutions so the entire amount is protected.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.