California Gov. Supports Waste-to-Energy Project

Date: June 25, 2012

Source: News Room

California Governor Jerry Brown's administration said it now supports legislation to revive a controversial waste-to-energy project planned in the Salinas Valley after the California waste department reversed its support and despite concerns raised by environmentalists. Plasco Energy Group (Ottawa, ON) is proposing to build a $175 million energy plant there that employs plasma gasifiers to convert garbage into synthesis gas "syngas" that can be burned cleanly to generate electricity. At issue is whether the Plasco project would qualify as a renewable energy project under state law. The economic viability of the project depends in part on the ability to sell electricity at a premium to utilities eager to buy at least one third of their power from renewable sources by 2020, under state law.

Last month California's Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) rescinded its original opinion, given during the previous administration under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, saying instead that the proposed plant would not qualify legally as a "gasification" facility meeting strict environmental standards. Meanwhile, environmentalists objected to the state's original interpretation of the law and called the gasification technology unproven and possibly toxic to the environment.

In a letter to the company, Nancy McFadden, a senior adviser to Brown, said his office "will be supportive of legislation during the current session to allow Plasco's project to proceed on a pilot basis and be considered an eligible renewable energy resource under state law." McFadden ends the letter with a hand-written note next to her signature saying, "we can make this work."

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