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02-21-03: Electric plant powered by poultry manure possible
The Daily Standard
    A company based in Fort Wayne, Ind., is studying the feasibility of building an estimated $30 million plant in Mercer County that would burn poultry manure to generate electricity.
    Members of the Wabash Watershed Alliance on Thursday voted 6 to 5 to authorize WWA Coordinator Lance Schwarzkopf to devote the next two weeks to writing an application seeking a $10,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Development's Office of Energy Efficiency to help pay for the estimated $20,000 feasibility study. The grant deadline is March 7.
    The company, Commodity Drying, and its investors would pay for the other half of the feasibility study cost, he said. The company dries poultry and livestock manure.
    No one from the company was available to comment this morning.
    Schwarzkopf said an ash byproduct would be produced from the burned poultry manure, which could then be turned into a pelletized fertilizer.
    Schwarzkopf said he and representatives from Mercer County, the village of Fort Recovery, Cooper Farms in Fort Recovery, Ohio Department of Development, USDA, Gov. Bob Taft's office and Commodity Drying and Energy Products of Idaho, a company whose technology already has been used to build electrical plants that use alternative power sources, attended the first meeting in recent months. Local officials attended a second meeting on the matter.
    Diller explained that Commodity Drying originally wanted to site a manure drying facility in the county. After discovering the large amount of poultry manure produced in Mercer and Darke counties, the company ratcheted up their plans to possibly include an electrical plant, Diller said.
    Diller said the company has discussed building a 25 megawatt plant, which is roughly the amount of electricity used by the village of Fort Recovery per year.
    Some WWA members pressed Schwarzkopf and Diller for more details about such a plant, at times becoming frustrated with the lack of information.
    Members who voted no generally said they felt Schwarzkopf should not be responsible for writing the grant. One member suggested that Mercer County Community Development Director Larry Stelzer should write it instead.
    Others feared having the WWA's name associated with something that later might prove to be negative, while another member felt such a plant might bring more huge poultry farming operations to the county.
    Another member felt such a plant would fit in well with WWA goals associated with increasing water quality in the watershed area and in the river that the watershed area drains into.
    "It fits in with a lot of things we want to do with this group," Diller said.
    "A lot of these questions we are asking here today would be answered in this feasibility study," Schwarzkopf said in response to the battery of questions. "We wouldn't be committed to anything ... Maybe after the feasibility study this will go away."
    Schwarzkopf said a large part of the study would include an environmental impact assessment. With the WWA involved in the study, it will have access and input on this portion of the study.
    "As a watershed we are very interested in this," Schwarzkopf said. "The environmental impact (of the electrical plant) could mean an increase in environmental quality, which could involve burning waste products that could otherwise go into the watershed."


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