By STEVE SCHULWITZ
News Staff Writer
HILLMAN - The board of commissioners from Alpena, Oscoda and Montmorency counties voted to move forward with an agreement that will allow Recovered Energy Resources to construct a gasification plant at the landfill in Atlanta. The votes took place during a special joint meeting in Hillman on Tuesday.
News Photo by Steve Schulwitz
Brad Schneider of Recovered Energy Resources gives a presentation to the commissioners from Alpena, Oscoda and Montmorency counties on Tuesday in Hillman. The three county boards voted to move forward with the construction of a $28 million gasification plant, which will be built at the landfill in Atlanta.
The $28 million facility will utilize the trash to produce electricity, which will be sold to the City of Wyandotte and hopefully others.
Montmorency and Oscoda commissioners posted perfect votes to move forward with RER, while Alpena's board voted 6-1 with Chairman Cam Habermehl voting against it to explore another option, which has presented itself recently.
Alpena Commissioner Mark Hall said although the process has been a long one, he believes RER deserves the nod.
"The selling point for me is they appear to be moving in the right direction, we have not committed any money, and we can't continue to run our landfill if they don't produce," Hall said. "You have to make a decision and move forward with what you believe is the best chance for success, and right now I think this is it."
Commissioner Rich Fortier agreed with Hall and said RER was the first to approach the landfill about a waste-to-energy project, and if it makes good on the promises for added revenue to the counties, it will benefit everyone.
"I think it is a win, win for all three counties. I think it increases revenue and solves problems with a number of other items," Fortier said. "I don't see any drawbacks in this. We started with RER, they put a lot of time, work and money into this. The primary reason I voted for this was because they were the first in line and deserved the consideration."
Alpena Commissioner Tom Mullaney said the biggest reason he voted to move forward with RER was due to the fact that no money is required to be added by the county.
"The fact that there is no cost to us whatsoever was the deciding factor to me," Mullaney said. "If there was any obligation at all on our part, I would have been hesitant. There is nothing up front, and that certainly fits our budget, which is zero."
Before Alpena's vote, Habermehl urged his fellow commissioners to hold off on a vote until the next regular commissioners' meeting. Representatives from Green Power Technologies are expected to make a proposal to the board about a possible venture that would utilize trash to produce a bio-mass which would be sold to industries across the nation. Green Power approached the landfill board several months back when things seemed to cool with RER and made a pitch to construct their own facility at the landfill. Tuesday's development leaves such a venture in question now.
The new plant will create about 30 new jobs from the three counties and retain four current workers at the landfill. It appears DTE Energy will play a role in the management aspect. RER representative Bill Chynoweth said RER is about giving back to the community and said the company intends to hire veterans, donate to local organizations, and act as sponsors to things like Little League teams.
The company still has loose ends to tie up. The deal with Wyandotte still needs to be finalized, and the permitting process with the DEQ must take place. Schneider said he expects construction to begin during the first quarter to 2013.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.