LCSWMA Acquires the Harrisburg WTE Facility

The Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA) has officially acquired the Susquehanna Resource Management Complex (SRMC), formerly known as the Harrisburg Resource Recovery Facility, for a total purchase price of $129,890,000.  The purchase is supported by 20-year waste disposal contracts with the City of Harrisburg and Dauphin County, in addition to a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of General Services.  This project is the first public to public acquisition of a waste-to-energy facility in the United States and was a key ingredient in relieving the distressed City of Harrisburg from over $360 million of debt.  LCSWMA’s newly expanded system will now manage approximately 900,000 tons of solid waste with annual revenues of approximately $85 million.  “This innovative, strategic acquisition will provide the region with future waste processing capacity and offer additional flexibility to LCSWMA’s already robust Integrated System,” said James Warner, LCSWMA’s CEO.  Covanta Energy will continue operating the WTE facility portion of the site under an amended agreement with LCSWMA.  LCSWMA’s business plan includes a series of capital improvements to the site over the next four years totaling $18.25 million, including: installing new scales and implementing traffic flow patterns to improve on-site time for customers; constructing a new small vehicle drop-off building for residents and deliveries of construction/demolition waste; purchasing equipment for upgrades to the WTE facility; expanding the current tipping floor; constructing a new building for ash storage; revamping the current site entrances; and implementing extensive landscaping work.  

New Study Published on Economic Benefits of WTE

Eileen Berenyi of Governmental Advisory Associates released a report entitled “Nationwide Economic Benefits of the Waste-to-Energy Sector,” which concludes that the total economic contribution of the United States waste-to-energy sector is $5.6 billion of gross economic sales output.  The sector encompasses nearly 14,000 direct and indirect jobs and nearly $890 million of total labor compensation.  In 2010, the waste-to-energy sector directly employed 5,350 people servicing 85 plants in the United States.  Direct labor earnings for those employees totaled $459 million in wages, salaries and benefits paid to WTE employees in the United States.  An additional 8,557 full time equivalent jobs are created in the U.S. outside the WTE sector, based on an estimated 1.6 additional jobs supported by each direct waste-to-energy job.  As a result of the WTE sector, those nearly 8,600 jobs yielded an additional $429 million in wages, salaries and benefits received by workers outside the waste-to-energy sector. 

Shawn Lawrence Otto Speaks Out in Favor of WTE

Shawn Lawrence Otto is a science writer, filmmaker, novelist, and the co-founder of ScienceDebate.org, the home of the US presidential science debates. His new book is Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America. He lives in a wind-powered, passive solar, superinsulated geothermal home he designed and built with his own hands. He recycles, composts and drives a hybrid car.  And in several media outlets, he provides a thorough and well reasoned opinion that waste-to-energy is a clean and renewable technology that is being held back by unwarranted fears.  In the article, he examines evidence showing recycling and WTE are complementary, demonstrates that clean air technology cuts emissions of waste-to-energy to near-zero, fights the myth that WTE is toxic, and concludes that WTE helps fight climate change.  Read the article in its entirety, here.

Center for American Progress Says WTE Reduces GHG

The Center for American Progress, a well respected think tank in Washington, DC, recently published a white paper entitled, "Energy From Waste Can Help Curb Greenhouse Gas Emissions," in which it relates the myriad environmental benefits associated with waste-to-energy.  The paper, written by Matt Kasper, lays out the importance of waste-to-energy in promoting sustainable waste management and clean renewable energy.  Kasper notes EPA research that shows for every ton of garbage processed at a waste-to-energy facility, approximately one ton of emitted carbon-dioxide equivalent in the atmosphere is prevented.  The United States is missing a large opportunity to improve its greenhouse footprint by not increasing demand for waste-to-energy.  As the report concludes, "Both energy from waste and recycling and composting efforts are a win-win-win for the United States."  The report adds that "EfW generates clean electricity, decreases greenhouse gases that would have been emitted from landfills and fossil-fuel power plants, and pairs well with increased recycling rates in states."

Democratic Governors Support WTE as a Job Creator

Waste-to-energy "often brings greenhouse gas mitigating, baseload renewable energy and significant jobs through both the construction and operation of plants," according to the Democratic Governors' Association (DGA).  In a paper entitled, "Opportunities to Increase and Diversify Domestic Energy Resources: A Path Forward for States to Create and Retain Jobs", DGA recognizes that trash is converted into energy at facilities throughout the U.S. and serves as a sustainable baseload renewable energy resource, adding to our fuel diversity.  The boost to the economy provided by waste-to-energy is evidenced by the expansion of the HPOWER facility in Hawaii, which created 400 construction jobs and will employ 34 full-time employees, as well as contribute millions in direct and indirect spending to the local economy.