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.