June 16, 2008

Norco Residents Briefed on Manure-to-Energy Plan

By Alicia Robinson, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.

Jun. 13--Small power plants fueled by various kinds of waste could spring up around Norco in the future if energy experts can agree on the best technology to use.

Norco city officials initially want to build a plant that would turn horse manure into electricity, which could help power a wastewater-treatment plant. A study of the potential for such a plant has been under way since March and should be finished by August.

Councilman Malcolm Miller, who has taken a strong interest in the project, updated a Thursday meeting of the community group Residents of Norco Urging Protection of Rural and Animal Keeping Lifestyles, or RURAL.

The city is interested in a manure-to-energy plant as a way to save on electricity costs and to save residents the tipping fees they now pay to dispose of manure at a landfill. It previously was studied in 2004 but was not thought to be financially feasible then.

For now, the city is considering a single plant next to the wastewater-treatment plant on River Road in Corona, but eventually there could be several plants around the city.

"Think of it in multiple sites and multiple approaches because you don't want to have to haul everything to a central plant," said Michael Theroux, an energy consultant working with Chevron Energy Solution. "If we can make this work here, you'll immediately see it spark in numerous other areas."

A key consideration, Miller said, will be what type of waste-to-energy technology is used. Chevron has requested information from 12 other companies on their technologies, which likely would include using high heat to convert waste into gases that would be burned to generate steam power.

All kinds of waste, including cooking grease and household trash, can be turned into energy, but Miller said mixing too many materials can make it harder to get the necessary permits from air quality regulators.

He would like to see a plant that can take sludge from wastewater treatment as well as horse manure, he said.

"I believe we can make this economically feasible," Miller said. "I'm concerned that if we use just horse manure, because of its low [energy] level, that we may not be able to do it."


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