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Doubts, questions linger about proposed biomass energy plant

Residents plan to attend Jan. 29 commissioners' meeting

January 21, 2009
Plans announced last month for a 28-megawatt biomass renewable energy plant north of Milltown that would bring several jobs paying up to $50,000 a year to Crawford County have many people excited but others concerned.

Some have questions about the facility, which would turn woody biomass into energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including the safety of emissions, noise and light levels, the number of large trucks that would enter and leave the plant daily and the effect it would have on property values.

Several residents who live within proximity of the property purchased by the developers, Liberty Green Renewables LLC, just northwest of the S.R. 64/S.R. 66 intersection, plan to attend this month's Crawford County Board of Commissioners meeting in hopes of getting answers.

In fact, a paid advertisement appears in today's newspaper encouraging anyone with questions or concerns to join them at the meeting, Thursday, Jan. 29, at 6:30 p.m. at the Crawford County Judicial Complex at English.

Paul Walerczack said he and his wife, Lisa, are mainly worried the facility would present a danger to their five young children.

"The big concern was how many trucks were going to come in a day and where were they going to enter in," he said.

Walerczack, who lives in one of five houses on the section of Old S.R. 64 that would be within walking distance of the facility, said he has talked to three of the other four homeowners "and we all pretty much have the same concerns."

He said he isn't opposed to the plant, noting that an electricity substation is located across the road from his house; he just wants answers to his concerns.

"I'm not upset. We want the best for Crawford County," Walerczack said, explaining he welcomes new, high-paying jobs to the county.

Terrance Naulty of Elizabeth, one of two local partners in Liberty Green Renewables (the other is Larry Ott of Georgetown), said he has heard that several people are concerned, but he wants to assure them that the plant, which would occupy five to seven acres "with the processing facility less than an acre" would be safe.

"It's a pretty small facility," Naulty said.

He added the company "would like the input of neighboring residents" as officials haven't decided on the ingress and egress routes, since a site analysis hasn't been conducted. However, he said he anticipates about 30 tractor-trailers trucks entering and leaving the facility per day.

Naulty said visual barriers, such as screens and trees, are typical for such plants to block the view and keep light levels low. He added that while the facility, which, if built, likely would be operational in late 2011, must still attain the necessary permits, the amount of emissions of gases, such as nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, would be low, a small fraction of that emitted by a coal-burning plant. He added the plant would be carbon neutral, as the carbon dioxide would be absorbed by the vast woodlands in the area.

"There's no concerns about that," he said of harmful level of gases being emitted into the air, noting all permits with the state will be available to the public.

Naulty said he welcomes calls from persons with questions and has already received some messages on his voice mail, but has been unsuccessful in making return contact with them. (His office number is 1-812-696-3250.)

He explained that he and Ott, who appeared with him at the December commissioners' meeting, were vague on details about the plant because of competition.

"That being said, we want to be a good corporate citizen ," Naulty said.

Walerczack said he welcomes such communication.

"I think where we sit as landowners, being this close, they owe us" to provide as much information as they can, he said.

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    Boiler operation / Powerhouse
    January 21, 2009 | 04:27 PM

    I operate two boilers in Louisville,Ky. We have a CEMS system that monitors emissions and we operate way below our permit limitations.
    There is no visible emissions from our stack, (opacity) that is monitored also. If a boiler is operated efficently ,air flow and fuel mixture ,it creats a clean burn. We are also permited to burn hazardous waste,so we are monitered by EPA more closely than most.
    This would be good for the community,we need more jobs in Crawford County. Also EPA won't let you operate out of permit levels. Nothing unsafe about it.

  2. print email
    Biomass Power Plant
    January 22, 2009 | 10:18 AM

    The plant needs to be built in an industrial park, not on top of long time residents of Milltown and the Historic Blue River. Are a hand full of jobs worth the ... loss of tourism on the blue river, road damage from increased semi travel & pollution? Milltown/Marengo ground is nothing but sink holes and caves. ... Think about our children who go to school at Milltown Elementary School not more than 2-3 miles away. Crawford Co. will not be such a lovely place to live and visit. Marengo residents need to wake up too. Your only 5-6 miles from this plant. Marengo's residents and tourism (Marengo Cave) will be greatly affected by the semi's travel ... Crawford Co. residents need to look into this matter themselves and not always believe what County officials want them to believe. EPA tries to control emissions but once levels exceed limits its the residents of Milltown/Marengo/Depauw who will pay ... We don't need this plant at this Milltown location.

  3. print email
    Very bad idea
    January 22, 2009 | 10:36 AM

    There is nothing positive about the idea of this biomass plant going into Crawford County. Spend 10 minutes on the internet and you can find dozens of cases of these plants going into small, rural areas and wreaking havoc. The main things I am worried about are ground water contamination (keep in mind they are planning to build this plant in an area FULL of sink holes), effluent in the river and reduced property values. ... I hope everyone who loves the Blue River will stand up and make their voices heard in opposition to this idea.

    Cathy Keibler
  4. print email
    Biomass Plant/ More Jobs
    January 23, 2009 | 09:06 AM

    Are we gaurenteed that these jobs would be for Crawford County residents exclusivley? How would this benifit our county economically if they are promised tax cuts? My prperty taxes went up, but they are being offered tax cuts by our County to entice them into operating here. Also, would it effect home values? If home values decrease, then the home owners would be "under water" with their mortgages, and no way to get out of them. I would hate to own a home, to see the value cut in half, especially in todays market. I would be interested in hearing from residents of other communites that have THIS type of plant. Would we recieve cheaper energy costs, or would this energy go to other communites? ... I think we should use common sense when it comes to this power plant. Crawford County's beauty should not be prostituted out to gain a few dollars.

    T. Paine
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    What exactly is "woody biomass?"
    January 23, 2009 | 05:56 PM

    The term woody biomass could mean just about anything in an area that is used to seeing shoddy forest management practices. Perhaps Naulty should be completely candid about their proposed fuel source, the controls they intend to place on the power plant, and the financial deal they seek to make with (the energy company) before they expect community wide support.

  6. print email
    January 24, 2009 | 08:19 AM

    People do some research on this, this is the same spiel these companies give on every project. ... Just because EPA has regulations doesn't mean anything if it isn't kept up, and even then the regulations are becoming less stringent just to let more of these plants be built. ... I am most concerned because this guy is telling only the upside ...
    PS forget about property values, if this goes in you won't have any!

    County official
Schuler Bauer
Barbara Shaw
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