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Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Deal could clean lake, create power

Celina studies venture to turn manure into electricity

By William Kincaid
Celina Community Development and Planning Director Kent Bryan has begun negotiations with a private company that wants to turn local farm manure into electricity.
The city must enter into an agreement with Optional Energy Partners of Florida in the next 60 days to allow the business to get a 30 percent rebate from the federal government for the venture, Bryan told city council during a Monday night meeting. The federal credit expires Dec. 31, so the city must act quickly in the coming weeks to give the company enough time to take advantage of the incentive, Bryan said.
Bryan said he would not move forward with negotiations unless he had the support of council members.
"It's not a short-term fix," Bryan said, explaining manure used in the process would be removed from the local watershed, which would help clean up Grand Lake.
"I say you keep going," Councilman Bill Sell told Bryan.
No council members spoke against the initiative.
Optional Energy Partners is one of four companies that has talked with the city for the last year and a half about renewable energy options, Bryan said. The company wants to install a biomass digester at the intersection of U.S. 127 and Brown Road, that would generate electricity from manure.
As part of negotiations with the company so far, Celina would likely be required to purchase 1 megawatt of electricity from Optional Energy Partners at 2 to 4 cents more than the power it currently purchases from other sources, Bryan said. Optional Energy would finance, construct, own and operate the biomass digester facility, where they would generate electricity and produce commercial fertilizer from the manure.
The company would pay a royalty to the city if an agreement is reached, Bryan said, and that money would be used to finance dredging and other lake restoration initiatives.
Celina and the local area would benefit by the reduction of manure in the watershed, he added.
The success of the operation would depend on the collection of manure in liquid form. Bryan said some farmers understand the benefit of their manure being collected for free, while others may think their manure is a commodity to sell.
Bryan this week also is meeting with officials at Battelle Institute of Columbus, where researchers claim to have created technology that will extract the nitrogen and phosphorous from the liquid manure. The institute has proved the efficacy of the process in the laboratory and is now looking to create a prototype on the lake, he said.
If the plan is successful, the concentrated nitrogen and phosphorus could be turned into a commercial fertilizer, while the water from the filtered manure could be returned to Coldwater Creek.
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