ATLANTA -As the deadline for a 180-day exclusivity agreement between Recovered Energy Resources and the Montmorency-Oscoda-Alpena Solid Waste Management Authority approaches, the green energy company has requested the commissioners reach out to power providers in Northeast Michigan to help persuade them to consider entering into a purchase agreement.
RER intends to construct a gasification plant that would be built at the landfill in Atlanta, but even though it has investors lined up for the project, finding a local buyer for the power generated has not yet been found.
Bill Chynoweth of RER said he would like to help provide renewable energy to power suppliers such as Alpena Power, Wolverine Power and Presque Isle Electric and Gas before selling it to out-of-state markets. The commissioners, however, decided during the landfill meeting on Friday that RER should handle all talk with the power companies at this time. Alpena County Commissioner Lyle VanWormer said it is the job of RER to contact the energy companies and to negotiate with them and the board will continue to move forward when and if an agreement is reached.
"I just feel like this is really not this board's job to do," VanWormer said. "It has been a couple of years since we started this project, and I'm sure anyone who would be interested knows what we're doing. I would have thought if nobody has come forward with the publicity this project has been given, then they aren't going to come forward. If RER has to go outside of the state to sell the power, I have no issues with it, because they have definitely tried here to get the local market first, and that is all you can do is try, and if it doesn't work then I think you do have to look at the long-range picture."
The commissioners entered into the RER agreement with the assumption that ground could be broken and the facility could begin to take shape by the end of summer. Besides not having buyers for the electricity, the permit application still has not been filed with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, a process that requires review and public hearings before being issued. In most cases, it is a time-consuming process. Alpena Commissioner Cam Habermehl said until RER can find a purchaser for its power, there is no point of moving forward.
"We aren't going to negotiate with them until they have a contract or contracts in place, because how can you negotiate with someone when they don't even know how much they will sell and for what cost," Habermehl said. "We won't know how much of the tipping fee they would want would be, how much to lease the land, and there are just a lot of questions that can't be answered until everyone knows what the numbers are."
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Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.