Ramble On

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Green Energy at Project Clover?

There was breaking news on the prospect of developing Page County’s controversial Project Clover site this week. In essence, there is a proposal to build a “green energy” plant on the site, as reported in NV Daily (link below).

Delegate Todd Gilbert is quoted at length in the article:

"The ag industry benefits from having this waste product taken off their hands," Gilbert said.

"And [Fibrowatt tells] us it's a clean process. The smokestacks are mostly steam. And you would be removing thousands of tons of poultry litter from the ground that might otherwise have found its way into the Chesapeake Bay."

As a renewable-energy producer that would sell the power to utilities, electric cooperatives and large industrial users, there are certain economic impediments to Fibrowatt's operations that require incentives to make the process affordable for everyone, Gilbert said.

"What the company does is highly specialized and expensive," he said, adding that its costs are only marginally above the wholesale value of the product.

Given the history of Project Clover, this is sure to be controversial. I hope there will be a lot of additional due diligence done on the prospect. I have a feeling that this Gilbert quote doesn’t tell the whole story: "The ag industry benefits from having this waste product taken off their hands, and [Fibrowatt tells] us it's a clean process.”

I started to do some additional research on this after reading the article last night. I was impressed with the assessment of potential economic impact…but I could see a number of environmental concerns about an industrial site like this that I would like to understand better.

After thinking about it some more, my first impressions returned to the matter of how the site selection for Project Clover was done in the first place, especially after I read about how the plant would need to source the chicken litter from a wide geographic area. They need a sustainable supply, and their Minnesota operation gets it from at least five counties. A Page County plant would source the whole Northern Valley area.

The question then becomes one related to truck access to the Clover site. I imagine there would be at least one truck per hour delivering raw materials to the plant, and they would have to use that two-lane bypass to get there…rolling through the little town of Stanley since through traffic in the other direction isn’t allowed. My conclusion on this a few months ago was that other sites with better proximity to existing highways were better candidates, and I still think that way.

In any case, seems like we’re on the front end of an exciting development. The prospect of 300 construction jobs and 100 permanent jobs operating that plant is nothing to sneeze at, but the reality is that Page County has a hard time sealing the deal on prospects like this. The best way to move forward is an open, trusting, intelligent dialog involving all County stakeholders, now that this opportunity is public.

Thoughts?

http://www.nvdaily.com/news/2010/01/gilberts-bill-aims-for-pick-of-the-litter.php

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm out of town for a while so was glad to see you keeping on top of this. I am against it. It sounds like another company coming to Page Valley to scam us of millions of dollars and leaving us the bills. Can't they build it some place else? If people want jobs they should move to where the jobs are. I did when I had a family to support. That's my opinion. Yours truly- Elaine from HurrayforLuray

Anonymous said...

I'm out of town for a while so was glad to see you keeping on top of this. I am against it. It sounds like another company coming to Page Valley to scam us of millions of dollars and leaving us the bills. Can't they build it some place else? If people want jobs they should move to where the jobs are. I did when I had a family to support. That's my opinion. Yours truly- Elaine from HurrayforLuray

Anonymous said...

Alot of research has been done regarding Fibrowatt in NC where the citizens are very opposed to the three proposed Fibrowatt facilities. To begin with,they will create "UP TO 100 jobs..." When asked about the jobs, it is actually only 30 new jobs - 15 of which are "minimum wage" and 15 of which "require power plant experience and special skills.) The other 70 jobs which they include are the folks driving trucks of litter (the jobs of which exist today as the litter is currently being driven from the farms that have it to the farms that need it.) Net new jobs of current residents = 15! See www.yadkinriverkeeper.org/fibrowatt for a document containing the facts discovered by NC citizens when they looked into Fibrowatt. We don't need - and shouldn't want - Fibrowatt to build their polluting smokestacks with our tax dollars anywhere in the US! Don't let them in your area!

Jim said...

I saw that riverkeeper report and planned to look at that aspect of this project on Thursday. Fibrowatt has been straightforward about the jobs impact - our Virginia delegate is the one who identified the potential impact of 100 jobs. Feel free to identify yourself if you post again, and thanks for your interest.