Incinerator plan clears $1M hurdleOne million dollars recently secured for an expansion at Pope Douglas Solid Waste Management may not cover the cost of the whole project, but it will reduce the financial impact to citizens.
By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press
One million dollars recently secured for an expansion at Pope Douglas Solid Waste Management may not cover the cost of the whole project, but it will reduce the financial impact to citizens.
“It will definitely help out,” said Pete Olmscheid, director of the Waste to Energy facility in Alexandria. “And right now, no other grants [to help pay for the project] are viable at this point.”
U.S. Senators Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar secured the $1 million for the facility expansion project at Pope Douglas Solid Waste Management (PDSWM) last week.
The facility, shared by Douglas and Pope counties, currently processes the trash for Pope, Douglas and Grant counties. After the expansion, however, it will also process trash from Stevens and Stearns counties – for an interim period of time.
Olmscheid noted Stevens and Stearns counties would be included until Pope and Douglas counties grow into the capacity of the expanded facility.
Klobuchar announced that more than $45.4 million – to be used for energy and water projects around the state – recently cleared a major hurdle by passing through the Senate Appropriations Committee on Energy and Water.
The projects, including PDSWM’s, will now be sent to the full Senate for consideration.
Olmscheid won’t know for sure if the money will be there until probably next January, he said.
“The Pope/Douglas Waste to Energy facility is an example of Minnesotans leading the push for homegrown energy,” Klobuchar said in a news release. “Projects like this can create good jobs in Minnesota while capturing new energy sources, reducing our dependence on foreign oil and protecting the environment.”
Coleman noted, “Innovative energy solutions are key to bringing down energy costs, curbing our dependence on foreign oil and addressing climate change.”
Coleman took a mini tour of the facility when he visited the Alexandria area in March of this year.
“For more than 20 years, the folks at the Pope/Douglas plant have been raising the bar with their groundbreaking efforts to protect our environment while powering businesses in their community,” continued Coleman. “I am proud that this additional funding will allow Pope and Douglas counties to expand their unique waste-to-energy model.”
Olmscheid explained that the expansion is needed in order to meet the growing needs of the area, as well as neighboring businesses such as 3M and the Douglas County Hospital, which both receive steam energy from the facility.
“We want to deal with trash in the most environmentally safe way possible,” said Olmscheid “This expansion can help us do that. It’s a good infrastructure for this community.”
The Waste to Energy facility can reduce trash by 90 percent by volume. For instance, it can turn 100 cubic yards of trash into 10 cubic yards of ash, which Olmscheid said is not a whole lot different than campfire ash.
He also noted that PDSWM has a specific landfill for the ash that it owns. Last fall, measurements indicated that the landfill has 177 years of life left.
Olmscheid also stressed that with the expansion, PDSWM will not slow down or stop its recycling efforts.
“We will continue to do the same practices as we are currently doing now,” he stated.
The cost of the proposed project is estimated at about $18.5 million, which includes a third waste combustor. This would double the facility’s capacity to 240 tons per day, said Olmscheid.
Before the project can move ahead, it needs to have an air quality permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency, which it is currently waiting for.
“Once we have the permit in hand, then we will start construction,” explained Olmscheid, adding that he expects work to begin early next year.
He predicts that if the expansion project stays on schedule, the third waste combustor would be operating by midway through 2010.
During the construction phase, he noted that the current facility will continue to operate.
“We wish to thank Senators Klobuchar and Coleman for their progressive action in securing funds for the Waste to Energy facility expansion and also for including waste-to-energy as a renewable resource,” Olmscheid concluded.