Maryland Legislature Sends WTE Bill to Governor's Desk

The Maryland House of Delegates and Senate both passed the SB 690, which will elevate waste-to-energy to a Tier 1 renewable under the state renewable portfolio standard. The final bill was passed in the Senate with a 24-20 vote and in the House of Delegates with a 79-60 vote. The legislation will now be sent to the Governor Martin O’Malley who has supported the bill is expected to sign it into law.  The ERC urged him this week to sign the bill quickly.  The newspapers have been actively covering the process in Annapolis.  The Baltimore Sun printed an op-ed by Rick Brandes, formerly of EPA's Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, in support of the legislation.  The Sun also printed a letter to the editor from Ted Michaels of the Energy Recovery Council which also supported the pro-WTE bill. An opinion piece in a local Maryland newspaper provided the interesting perspective on the issue, stating that opposition groups' “well-intentioned stances have no logical connection to actually improving the environment.”

ERC Submits Comments on Bingaman-Murkowski CES White Paper

The Energy Recovery Council submitted comments in response to the clean energy standard white paper released by Senators Jeff Bingaman and Lisa Murkowski, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The senators sought public comment on the specifics of such a bill, including what sources should be counted as clean energy. In his State of the Union address in January, Obama called on Congress to pass legislation requiring utilities to get 80 percent of their power by 2035 from alternative sources such wind and solar, as well as nuclear, natural gas and carbon capture and storage coal plants.

Alaska Holds Hearing on a Resolution Favoring Waste-to-Energy

The Alaska House Special Committee on Energy held a hearing on a resolution urging support for waste-to-energy. The resolution was introduced by Rep. Pete Petersen (D-Anchorage) who believes this technology can help communities across Alaska. Waste-to energy technology is already in use in Alaska at Eielson Air Force Base. This technology kills two birds with one stone, said Rep. Petersen. It lowers pressure on community landfills and it provides a cheap, reliable source of power. The committee held the resolution to get more input from the Parnell administration. Ted Michaels of the Energy Recovery Council testified at the hearing in support of the resolution.

Maryland Legislature Considers Bills Promoting Waste-to-Energy

Ted Michaels of the Energy Recovery Council testified this week in the Maryland legislature in support of a pair of bills that would move waste-to-energy from a Tier 2 renewable to a Tier 1 renewable in the state renewable portfolio standard. At hearings before the Senate Finance Committee and the House Economic Matters Committee, ERC fully supported the legislation and urged passage to ensure that there would be sufficient incentives in place to drive new development of waste-to-energy in Maryland. Also testifying in favor of the legislation were Robin Davidov of the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority, Nickolas Themelis of Columbia University/WTERT, and Rick Brandes, formerly of the U.S. EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. The Maryland Energy Administration also submitted testimony supporting the legislation. The Senate bill (SB 690) was passed unanimously in committee the day following the hearing.

The Economist Talks Trash

The Economist has noted the growing interest in turning trash into electricity through the use of electric plasma torches in a recent article.  Stating that burying trash "is old-fashioned and polluting", the article looks at the technical ability and profitability of plasma-based technologies to manage municipal solid waste.  More than three dozen American firms are proposing plasma-torch syngas plants, according to Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, a waste consultancy based in Fairfax, Virginia (and ERC member).  While no plasma facilities currently operate in the United States, this article demonstrates the concentrated effort of many companies to make this technology work on a commercial scale.  In short, it shows that household trash is a valuable energy source and the business of making energy from waste has a bright future.