Thursday, July 7, 2011

ReVenture 'quietly' negotiating with Duke Energy

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2011 at 11:48 AM

According to the July issue of The Mountain Island Monitor, Forsite Development — the company behind the ReVenture eco-industrial park and its controversial trash incinerator/gasification plant — is "quietly negotiating with Duke (Energy)."

If you'll recall, plans for ReVenture "evolve" pretty quickly. At one point, the plant was going to be able to produce 80 megawatts of electricity, but that number has been scaled back several times and, in May, the company announced that it now only plans to generate 10 megawatts.

From the Monitor's news editor, Tori Hamby:

Tom McKittrick, head of Forsite Development, the developer of ReVenture Park, said this week that his company is moving ahead with its proposal for the 667-acre former Superfund hazardous waste site. McKittrick wouldn't share details, but his company is negotiating a contract for Duke Energy to buy electricity produced by the waste-to-energy plant at the site of the former Clariant Corp. textile dye plant on Amble Drive in Mount Holly.

Break: Amble Drive is in Charlotte. That's where the company plans to sort trash and harvest valuable recyclables.

Forsite decided to scale back the size of its proposed power plant after debate about renewable energy legislation in Raleigh made electricity produced by waste-to-energy plants less attractive to utilities.

"During this past legislative session, there was some uncertainty that caused utilities to pause," McKittrick said. In some ways, the legislative maneuvering "took a lot of pressure off of the project" because Forsite Development no longer needed to secure the volume of garbage that only Mecklenburg County could provide.

Forsite also dropped its request to use an expanded Foxhole Landfill in Ballantyne as a back-up disposal site for ash and excess waste. After Forsite scaled back the size of its plant, Mecklenburg County Commissioners cancelled a $100,000 independent study of ReVenture's garbage-to-power proposal.

Forsite now plans to buy trash from a private hauler and use a private landfill for ash disposal, though McKittrick would not identify the hauler or the landfill.

The thought of burning trash to make fuel naturally makes many people uneasy, McKittrick acknowledges. To meet strict environmental guidelines, Forsite will remove any materials that would cause harmful emissions, such as batteries or mercury switches, he said. Waste paper, such as pizza boxes and used paper towels, would made up the bulk of the waste material.

Read more from The Mountain Island Monitor here. The July issue is on stands now and will likely be online soon.

Issues to watch in ReVenture news:

What does the company plan to do about non-recycleable plastics that emit hazardous pollutants, like dioxins and furans, when incinerated and can cause a host of health problems? (McKittrick has already stated that it's impossible to remove all such plastics from the waste stream, and it only takes a small amount to create harmful side effects, to which children, pregnant women and the elderly are most susceptible.)  Also, now that the county has canceled plans to conduct an impact study, will any other entity? Further, now that the project has scaled down, how will its emissions be monitored and by which government agency? Will the company be able to add on to the ReVenture incinerator/gasfier hybrid in the future? And, if so, how will the public be involved in that decision?

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