ERC Settlement on the GHG Mandatory Reporting Rule is Finalized

The Energy Recovery Council's settlement with EPA was finalized today as part of a final rule revising the Greenhouse Gas Mandatory Reporting Rule. Today's action codifies the settlement reached by ERC and EPA in July of this year. Today's action is significant since the relief afforded by the settlement could not take effect until EPA solicited public comments on this settlement (and settlements reached with other industries) and issued a final rule. The final rule had to be issued prior to January 1, 2011 or the facilities that will now benefit from the settlement would have been out of compliance with the original rule on January 1.

Under the original mandatory reporting rule, municipal waste combustor units greater than 250 tons per day were required to calculate and report greenhouse gas emissions using a burdensome Tier 4 methodology. The settlement provides relief for municipal waste combustor units which have a maximum rated input capacity less than 600 tons per day of MSW. Essentially, under the final rule, any units between 250 and 600 tons per day have been granted a reprieve and may now use the Tier 2 methodology to calculate and report greenhouse gases to EPA.

The settlment also clarifies that waste-to-energy facilities may utilize site-specific default moisture values if CO2 concentrations are measured on a dry basis. The signed copy of the rule can be found here.  It will be published in the Federal Register shortly.

New Frederick WTE Facility is Expected to Cost Less than Predicted

The proposed Frederick, MD waste-to-energy facility is expected to cost Frederick County $140.7 million over the next 30 years, significantly lower than previous estimates, according to a consultant's study. The study, conducted by the Municipal and Financial Services Group, said the reduction from an initial estimate of $331 million, is due to updating a previous model with current market conditions, including interest rates, energy prices and the consumer price index. Frederick County Commissioners President Jan Gardner said the new study reaffirms the board's commitment to building the waste-to-energy plant because it will generate electricity.  "Under all realistic scenarios, waste-to-energy would be less expensive than long-hauling," said David A. Hyder, a senior manager at the Municipal and Financial Services Group. Permits are expected to be issued for the waste-to-energy facility in January 2012. If they are, groundbreaking is expected for June 2012, with the plant becoming operational in spring 2015.

ERC Releases 2010 Directory of Waste-to-Energy Plants

The Energy Recovery Council today released the ERC Directory of Waste-to-Energy Plants, which provides current information about the waste-to-energy sector in the United States. In 2010, 86 plants operate in 24 states and have capacity to process more than 97,000 tons of municipal solid waste per day. According to the latest BioCycle estimates, 26 million tons of trash were processed by waste-to-energy facilities in 2008. While this amount is less than the 28 million tons processed in 2006, it reflects reduced waste generation during difficult economic times rather than decreased waste-to-energy capacity. The nation’s waste-to-energy facilities have the capacity to generate the energy equivalent of 2,790 megawatt hours of electricity. This figure includes an electric generating capacity of 2,572 megawatts and an equivalent of 218 megawatts based on steam exports estimated at approximately 2.8 million pounds per hour.

ERC Congratulates Lee County (FL) and the City of Vienna for winning WTERT Awards

Columbia University hosted the Bi-Annual Conference of the Waste-to-Energy Research and Technology Council (WTERT) in New York City on October 7-8.  A highlight of the meeting is the presentation of the WTERT 2010 Awards. These Awards recognize outstanding contributions to education, research and practice of sustainable waste management worldwide.  The City of Vienna (Austria) was honored for being one of the cleanest (as well as “most livable”!) cities in the world. Lee County in southwest Florida, that includes the city of Fort Myers and the islands of Pine and Sanibel, also received the WTERT award for being one of the first urban areas in the U.S. to approach “zero waste” by minimizing landfilling.  The caliber of the finalists in this competition was so high that it was extremely difficult to settle on the final winners. The finalists were (alphabetically): Berlin (Germany), Greater Copenhagen (Denmark), Malmo (Sweden), Marion County‐Oregon (U.S.), Munich (Germany), the island‐nation of Singapore, Metro Vancouver (Canada), and Zurich (Switzerland).

Communities Rally Behind WTE and the Renewable Energy Standard (RES)

Communities are urging Congress to enact a renewable electricity standard (RES) that includes waste-to-energy as soon as possible.  For example, the towns of Brewster, Plymouth, and Fairhaven, Massachusetts have written to Sen. Scott Brown, urging him to support the leading RES proposal, which includes waste-to-energy, in order to "allow our communities to continue to support the production of clean renewable energy for years to come."  The Energy Recovery Council also strongly supports immediate enactment of a renewable energy standard, which will bring renewable policies in the United States more in line with successful renewable policies abroad.