By NANCY ALLEN
A decision on whether to build a proposed biomass facility in
Mercer County that burns poultry and livestock manure to generate
electricity could be made in 30 days.
Paul Felger, president of Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Commodity Drying,
a 5-year-old company developing biomass generating facilities,
told The Daily Standard this morning he will be the person who
makes that decision.
Felger also said if he decides to build a plant in the county,
the announcement of the specific site would soon follow.
Members of the Wabash Watershed Alliance (WWA) learned the project
is back on track during the group’s regular meeting on
Thursday. The WWA, a group concerned with improving water quality
in the Wabash River and in the watershed area that drains into
the river, first learned of Commodity Drying’s interest
in building such a plant in February.
Biomass is all non-fossil, organic materials that have an intrinsic
chemical energy content. They include all water- and land-based
vegetation and trees and all waste biomass.
Felger confirmed he is looking at the Fort Recovery area as
a possible site for the 12 megawatt plant and plans to meet
with Fort Recovery Village Administrator Randy Diller and other
county officials next week to discuss it further.
Felger said the plant could burn poultry, cattle/dairy and hog
manure. The southwest part of the county near Fort Recovery
is an area central to most of the county’s large poultry
and livestock operations.
WWA Coordinator Lance Schwarzkopf said Felger told him Commodity
Drying has a letter of intent signed by a power broker to purchase
electricity from such a biomass facility if it is built, which
Felger also confirmed this morning. Felger would not divulge
the name of the power broker nor a price tag for the facility.
He said he still needs more information before he puts an exact
cost to it.
The WWA has encouraged the plant’s location in the county
because it may decrease the amount of livestock manure that
gets into watershed creeks and streams feeding into the Wabash
“We would look at turkey, chicken, cow and pig manure,”
Felger said. “Not all manure burns the same, so it would
be blended to achieve the best combination needed to generate
Right now Felger said he is still talking with local poultry
and livestock producers to lock in his fuel supply.
“If that goes, it will go. If we can’t do that,
it won’t go,” Felger said.
Under other matters, WWA took baby steps toward looking into
making the WWA a nonprofit entity after learning from ODNR officials
recently that the WWA is not an officially organized entity.
Therefore, the group is not eligible to continue as a signatory
of the Wabash watershed coordinator grant.
The news was delivered to WWA officials in the form of a letter
from ODNR Division of Soil and Water Conservation Chief Dave
If the WWA wants to continue receiving the grant funds, it must
obtain appropriate legal status such as becoming a 501(c)3 (nonprofit)
organization or find an eligible and willing entity to employ
the coordinator and provide necessary in-kind matching services
such as office space and supplies, Hanselmann stated.
Those entities could include non-profit and non-governmental
organizations, all local units of the government and regional
planning commissions. The employer also should be aware of the
declining nature of the grant and should have a plan to supplement
the watershed coordinator’s salary beginning in the second
year of the grant.
Hanselmann in his letter gives WWA officials an Oct. 1 deadline
by which to take the necessary steps, including incorporation
and submittal of an application to become a non-profit organization,
or find an entity with appropriate legal status to employ the
watershed coordinator. A contract would then be completed between
ODNR and the entity. If a resolution has not been reached by
that time, ODNR may pull the contract.
WWA officials plan to discuss the matter further.
WWA Chairman Gary Stein-brunner characterized the support from
the Mercer Soil and Water Conservation District to act as the
signatory of the WWA’s grant as weak and “minimal