New plans for Southwest power plant

When residents in the Southwest area heard about plans to convert the defunct trash-burning power plant on Jackson Pike into a tire-burning power plant in 2004, they fought as hard against the idea as they did to ensure the removal of the trash burning plant.

Now, an Ohio and German-based company are hoping the community will embrace the idea of an environmentally friendly anaerobic digestion plant.

Anaerobic digestion is a process that makes use of bacteria that does not need oxygen to survive. Within that process, the bacterium multiplies and consumes waste and the energy produced is a methane rich burnable gas called biogas.

"This process allows that waste to be regenerated into renewable green energy," said Jerry Bennett, a representative with Kurtz Brothers, Inc. Bennett who was at the Oct. 15 Southwest Area Commission meeting on behalf of the company to speak of the anaerobic digestion plant.

A few years ago, Kurtz Brothers, Inc., teamed up with German company BioEnergy LLC to create Schmack BioEnergy with the goal of bringing the booming European industry of biogas to the United States. Their partnership resulted in the $7 million renovation of the KB Compost Service Inc. plant in Akron, Ohio, which became the first plant in the country to use the anaerobic digestion process.

Bennett explained that the anaerobic digestion plants could renew most feedstocks such as industrial and organic waste, human waste, animal waste, food waste and agricultural waste.

"This plant provides large scale, on-site renewable energy," he said. "It’s highly reliable with the buzz word being ‘It’s green’."

Bennett said if their building permit is approved by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, they could begin the groundbreaking within a month of approval.

One resident expressed his concerns over the hazards that may come with a new plant in the area.

"I am worried about the odor it may cause, as well as the traffic of trucks coming from the site," said Don Parsons. "We want to improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods, not add another bad thing that we don’t want."

However, Bennett stated that because the system is self-contained, the odor emissions would be virtually minimal. He also added they would build a secondary containment around the tanks in case there are leaks.

"That is not required by the EPA, but it’s just good business sense to do so," he said.

The commission requested that a meeting be scheduled so the public can ask questions or voice concerns over the proposed anaerobic digestion plant. Bennett, the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) and the commission said they would set up a community forum for the residents within the next three weeks (the date has yet to be determined, but they are hoping for a Monday or Wednesday meeting).

In other news

The next open house regarding the Southwest Area Land Use Plan is scheduled for Nov. 18, time and location yet to be determined.

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