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Choice of RER not without controversy

August 24, 2012
Steve Schulwitz - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ATLANTA - While waiting for Recovered Energy Resources to find cutomers to purchase power from a gasification plant RER wants to build at the Montmorency-Oscoda-Alpena Solid Waste Authority landfill, the landfill board was approached by another company expressing interest in opening a plant. Green Power Technologies wanted to build a plant that would produce a solid base bio-mass that would be marketed to factories and other companies in the state.

Negotiations never went too far though, as the lanfill was tied to an exclusivity agreement with RER. The commissioners on the landfill board were impressed with what Green Power was proposing, but RER may have struck a deal with the landfill board as the agreement was to expire. Before voting to accept the terms of RER for splitting the landfill's tipping fee and a solid waste agreement, Alpena County Commissioner Cam Habermehl made a motion that before committing to RER again the board should see what Green Power. The majority of the board chose not to provide the company a chance to make a pitch and instead voted 4-2 to move forward with RER.

Habermehl and Montmorency County Commissioner Margaret D'Agostino voted to wait on deciding which company to choose until Green Power was heard from, but Alpena Commissioner Lyle VanWormer, Oscoda Commissioners Mike Hunt and Joe Stone and Montmorency County's Brock Bagget voted against listening to Green Power's proposal. Habermehl was upset that both companies weren't allowed to show what they have to offer.

"We spent more than three years dealing with RER and the other company came in and wanted to make a presentation and we told them we were willing to listen to them," Habermehl said. "They have spent time and money researching markets, finding buyers for their product, they did. Some are local businesses and I think it would have only been right to hear their proposal also. Not to at least listen to them I think is just irresponsible."

VanWormer said RER has invested a lot of money and time in trying to make the gasification plant a reality. He said some of the problems the company met over the last several years weren't necessarily its own doing.

"It would have been nice to hear both, but they are two different processes and there were concerned about that," VanWormer said. "We have been dealing with RER since day one and they were always first, and I feel that if we said no to them then we would have looked at the other, but from my standpoint I just thought this was the right way to go."

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5689.



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