Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

June 5, 2014

Proposed plant would turn trash into energy

CROSSVILLE — A company interested in building a facility to turn municipal solid waste into energy met with county commissioners from Cumberland, Morgan and Roane counties last Wednesday evening for a presentation regarding the project.

The presentation from Alternative Engineering Solutions, LLC, the company considering a move into Cumberland County, was met with some praise and skepticism.

The work session was organized by Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. so all three partners involved in the Plateau Partnership Park (PPP) could hear from the company that wishes to locate in Cumberland County in the Tri-County Industrial Park. The site is located near the Westel Rd. exit of Interstate 40 in Cumberland County. The PPP is a joint venture and is an industrial park owned by all three counties.

The project, if completed according to AES's plan, could bring between 60 to 100 jobs and would cost roughly $16 million to build. The company likes the location of the PPP due to its close proximity to I-40, Rockwood airport and railway.

"We're looking for a solution to help municipalities get rid of their solid waste and create green energy and sell that back to TVA," said Jason Perry, one of the partners in Alternative Engineering Solutions.

The presentation described the company's patented Rotary Cascading Combustion System (RCBC) Waste to Energy System. The system converts municipal waste to energy.

"This is not a waste incinerator. There is no open flame. We don't burn trash ... it's not incineration, it's gassification," Perry said.

He estimated there would be 10 to 20 rail cars per day and 20 to 30 trucks per day bringing waste into the facility that would be processed on site the same day and would not be held or stored at the facility.

Through their process, Perry said the company will take that energy and sell it back to TVA at 3.5 cents per kilowatt.

The plant would have a maximum daily capacity of processing 500 tons. It would be a 24-7 operation.

"I have the contract right now, which is called a power-purchase agreement with TVA that says they'll buy it at 3.5 cents per kilowatt," Perry said.

The company would make its money through the $30 per ton tipping fees it would charge the counties to bring their garbage and from selling the energy to TVA.

Perry said the company was trying to set a floor for what the counties would pay for tipping fees and a maximum in the future for up to 10 years.

Carmin Lynch, 9th District commissioner, said the county is currently paying $30 per ton for tipping fees to take trash to a transfer station in town and said, "It's 30 minutes to get out here. It may cost us more to bring it here."

Perry said that would be something to be considered by the county in a feasibility study done on individual counties. He said a long-term contract with that rate might be worth it in the long run, though.

He also said they would have to do a traffic study as well.

Perry says the company would like a commitment from Cumberland, Morgan and Roane for a site in the PPP and that the counties will bring their solid waste to the company.

"This is only the first step and we are a new company, but we are looking for a place in this area of Tennessee and we will be building here in some location ... I have been contacted by Putnam County today. We are actively looking," Perry said.

Perry also said the company has the funds to be self funding, meaning they will invest in the property and facility and improvements to the land and would not request funds from the counties.

He said the company would also be able to take tires and process them. Perry said there would only be five percent waste called char that would be disposed of by the company in landfills.

"We do have the funds to put together a project like this and fund it," Perry said. "We'll be spending $16 to $20 million of our own money."

Morgan County Commissioner Kay Johnson said the project sounded good to her.

"We're running out of land and garbage is building up. It sounds good," Johnson said. She added the jobs would be welcome for their county.

One Westel resident asked about the smell and safety regarding the increased traffic.

"There is an odor ... It smells. It's garbage. Would I necessarily want us in my backyard? Maybe not. That's a decision for Cumberland, Morgan and Roane County to decide," Perry said.

He said the emissions from the plant would meet air quality standards and they had a permit with TDEC.

The work session was also part of the due diligence process for the company.

The company is new and none of the commissioners had heard of them. They are not incorporated in Tennessee and are based in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Perry said that Kevin Laster was listed as an engineer.

Several questioned their credentials and experience.

Perry said the company had projects in Bluefield, WV; Augusta, GA and Mt. Pleasant, and they were starting one in West Tennessee in Milan.

"We're a large-scale recycling center — that's all we are. We're taking waste and turning it into power," Perry said.

Lynch said he appreciated the company taking the time to come and make the presentation and said, "You ought to be going to the Industrial Development Board and do your due diligence with them and then they can come back to us."

No action was taken by the county commission because the meeting was a work session. The subject may come up again in a future meeting, though.

The presentation was made in Harriman at Roane State Community College.

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