Council gets answers on energy plant

Illustration courtesy of Hennessey Engineers

Site plans drafted by Hennessey Engineers Inc. of Southgate were presented Monday to the Wyandotte City Council. The plans show the proposed gasification plant, which is not to exceed 30 feet tall, and two silos to store refuse derived fuel pellets.

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE — After City Council questions regarding a proposed renewable energy plant were answered last week, residents will have a chance to ask theirs.

Representatives from Environmental Generation Technology Advisor LLC and other companies associated with the proposed plant visited the council meeting Monday to address members’ lingering questions about the project. A public hearing regarding the issue is set for 7 p.m. Feb. 7.

Councilwoman Sherri Sutherby Fricke has voiced concerns in recent months about the paths trucks carrying refuse-derived fuel pellets to the plants would take and whether the trucks would be inspected to ensure they were not bringing anything else into the city.

Ronald Remus, chief executive officer of Florida-based R2 Automation, which manufactures the gasification technology the plant will use to turn pellets made from paper-based refuse into power, told the council every aspect of the plant will be strictly monitored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Remus said that in addition, the system only works with clean organic materials in the form of pellets, and that no garbage will be coming into the city.

“Don’t imagine a dump truck dumping garbage,” he said. “We will not bring that into Wyandotte, we are not a transfer station. We don’t have raw garbage, we don’t have sewage, we don’t have medical waste, we don’t have any of that, nor will we put that in our system.”

Remus also assured council members that the pellets themselves have no odor.

“If we dump a bunch of our RDF in the middle of this room, we could have a meeting here next week and we’d still be in this room,” he said. “No gases, no pollution, and no odors.”

Councilman Leonard Sabuda asked if upstart company Green Solutions would be able to handle manufacturing all the pellets the plant needed to produce at least 10 percent of the city’s power as renewable energy, as required by Michigan Public Act 295.

Green Solutions CEO Joseph DuRant assured council members that once his plant is up and running in Detroit, it will handle all the pellets needed for Wyandotte’s plant and other projects.

DuRant also told council members that for every ton of garbage collected in the area, his company is using 85 percent for RDF and saving it from landfills.

James Papez, project manager with Southgate-based Hennessey Engineers, presented preliminary site plans for the project to council members.

The site, at Eighth and Central, will be divided into two separate 12-acre parcels. One will feature a 10,000-square-foot plant and two silos measuring 48 feet high and 48 feet in diameter for storing the RDF pellets. The main building will be no more than 30 feet tall. The other parcel may contain an identical setup in the future.

Trucks will travel up Pennsylvania to Central and then to Eighth, where they will unload the RDF and then continue out by the same route. A maximum of 12 loaded trucks will travel the route each day, but will remain well under the posted street weight limits, Remus said.

Councilors also brought up concerns about noise. The plant contract requires the sound at the property line not to exceed 55 decibles, which is comparable to people talking. Remus assured council members that the plant will be well under that limit.