CLEVELAND — ” In a hotel ballroom filled with entrepreneurs, angel investors and government bureaucrats hungry for opportunities in the evolving field of turning household trash into energy, Ivan Henderson delivers some sobering advice: Waste to energy is not an easy ride.’It’s been a bumpy road,’ the soft-spoken commissioner for Cleveland Public Power told an audience at the Waste Conversion Congress in Philadelphia earlier this month.
Cleveland’s efforts to bring a promising, if unproven, technology to provide a local source of power and manage its waste stream has faced a few hiccups: local opposition, federal criticism and the firing of a top consultant.
… Citizen groups believe Cleveland Public Power’s gasification talk is a smokescreen for another incinerator project.
‘They don’t want to call it an incinerator because they know the public opposition to incineration,’ said Sandy Buchanan, executive director of Ohio Citizen Action. ”
— Tiffany Stecker, Midwest Energy News
link to article
Garbage is unloaded at Cleveland's Ridge Road waste transfer station, where recyclables are processed and trash is prepared for shipment to landfills. Mayor Frank Jackson would like to find a way to use some of that refuse as an alternative energy source for city-owned Cleveland Public Power.
CLEVELAND — ” For years, Cleveland has flirted with a little-known technology for converting garbage into electric power, attracted by the idea of a green alternative to dispatching 230,000 tons of trash to Ohio landfills yearly and relying on coal-fired plants to supply Cleveland Public Power’s customers.
The promise of the technology called ‘gasification‘ might sound too good to be true; environmentalists have argued that it is.
But the possibility that Cleveland will build a ‘waste-to-energy’ plant at its Ridge Road garbage-transfer station seems to have survived several years of public scrutiny, the crusade of environmental groups and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s declaration that such a project runs the risk of becoming a new major source of pollution for Cuyahoga County.
And though Mayor Frank Jackson’s administrators told City Council members in April that they are ready to ‘hit the reset button’ on the plan — opening the door to new suggestions on how to manage the waste stream or generate energy — city spokespeople say the mayor still believes in the potential of gasification and isn’t done vetting the technology just yet. ”
— Leila Atassi, The Plain Dealer
link to article
CLEVELAND — “Last month Cleveland City Council gave the administration and Cleveland Public Power $200,000 for a new trash consultant, and said it would investigate all trash processing options — kinda.
After spending a few million in a stalled attempt to build the first U.S. high-tech gasification plant to turn garbage into cool stuff like decorative bricks and that would give CPP 7 percent of its electricity, the city fired the developer. Critics say a new request to 255 waste management companies asking how best to deal with all our trash is the same as the original: It limits options to things like gasification that would turn the trash into fuel.
‘If they’re going to do this they need to start over and set goals,’ says Chris Trepal, director of the Earth Day Coalition. She and other enviro types scheduled national recycling experts to talk to council’s sustainability committee about greener trash disposal but after they flew in, the meeting was canceled with no explanation.”
— Maude L. Campbell, Cleveland Scene Magazine
link to article
Keynote speaker Bob Gedert, Director of Resource Recovery in Austin, Texas.
CLEVELAND — Two of the country’s leading experts on developing outstanding programs for recycling, composting, and resource recovery of materials brought valuable information to Cleveland for the “You and the Environmental Symposium” on June 2, 2012. Bob Gedert, Director of Resource Recovery in Austin, Texas, and Neil Seldman, President of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Washington, D.C., provided concrete examples and blueprints for how non-profit groups, private businesses, and city governments can make major strides in reaching a goal of “zero waste.”
“Fifty percent of household waste can be recycled, and another forty percent composted, using technology that is available today,” Gedert explained. His department in Austin has issued a comprehensive plan to reach the goal of 90% reduction of waste by 2030.
“The best zero waste plans are community-invested,” Gedert said. Prior to adopting their plan, Austin city officials held 100 community meetings to find out what kinds of programs the citizens wanted. Gedert has worked in Ohio, Indiana, California and Texas to implement recycling programs and says he always includes a community organizing component, with recycling block captains who encourage their neighbors to learn to recycle. A survey in Austin showed that the lowest-income communities have the highest recycling rates. “Well-managed recycling always costs less than trash management,’ Gedert said.
Seldman described the business opportunities that can be created to reuse materials we now think of as “waste.” “There are companies who would be glad to locate their businesses in Cleveland to handle and reprocess materials like high quality paper, mattresses, and other items,” Seldman commented. “This is the way to create good-paying jobs that won’t be outsourced.” Continue reading Clevelanders learn from “zero waste” experts at June 2nd Symposium
CLEVELAND — “To capitalize on the renewed interest in recycling and composting generated by the public meetings earlier this year, environmental groups are now pressing the city to develop a more comprehensive plan. Ohio Citizen Action, Earthday Coalition and other groups have organized the Cleveland Composting and Recycling Forum on Saturday, June 2nd at the downtown YMCA.
‘Clevelanders have said loud and clear that they want stronger recycling programs,’ commented Chris Trepal, Executive Director of Earth Day Coalition, in a news release. ‘The urban gardening and local food community in Cleveland creates hundreds of opportunities for the productive use of compost.’
‘We’re hoping to bring in good ideas from other cities,’ adds Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director of Ohio Citizen Action, who says that the local and national speakers attending the event will provide a litany of successful models.”
— Lee Chilcote, Freshwater Cleveland
link to article
WHEN: June 2, 2012 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
WHERE: Downtown YMCA, 2200 Prospect Ave, Cleveland
Co-sponsors: Earth Day Coalition, Environmental Health Watch, Ohio Citizen Action, Northeast Ohio Sierra Club, Cleveland Neighborhood Development Coalition, GreenCityBlueLake Institute
With support from the George Gund Foundation
The symposium will feature keynote speakers Bob Gedert, Director of Resource Recovery in Austin, Texas, and Neil Seldman, President of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance from Washington, DC. Bob and Neil have a wealth of experience in designing and implementing recycling and resource recovery programs in cities across the country.
We’ll also feature local experts on composting and recycling, and will learn about the status and plans for recycling programs in Cleveland and across the county.
Please bring your neighbors, your notebooks, and your ideas for how we can move our city forward in creative and practical ways, both at the neighborhood and city-wide level.
Registration fee will be $5 for the program (including coffee, drinks, and snacks)
Lunch can be pre-ordered for $5 (or feel free to brown-bag)
Click here to register, or contact Sarah Batke, or call 216-861-5200
CLEVELAND — “Less than two weeks after Cleveland fired its consultant responsible for designing a proposed trash-to-electricity plant, city council approved spending $200,000 for a new consultant, who administrators promise will help the city ‘hit the reset button’ on the controversial project.
In a 15-2 vote Monday night, council authorized the city to seek and hire a consultant to review new proposals on how best to manage the city’s trash, with an eye toward potentially parlaying any waste that cannot be recycled into an alternative fuel source for city-owned Cleveland Public Power.
…But some council members say the pending air emissions permit and the fact that Cleveland Public Power Commissioner Ivan Henderson will receive all of the proposals before the consultant does, are signs that the administration is wedded to the gasifier model and is not as open-minded as it claims”
— Leila Atassi, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Read the whole story: http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2012/04/cleveland_city_council_authori.html
CLEVEAND — Citizens who have opposed the City of Cleveland’s plans to build a garbage incinerator at the Ridge Road transfer station are telling U.S. EPA, Ohio EPA, Major Frank Jackson, and members of City Council that the City should not be allowed to receive an air pollution permit for a proposed new incinerator.
Despite the fact that the city fired Peter Tien, the designer of the proposed incinerator, for incompetence, administration officials told City Council last week that they want to continue to work from the same “model” they had before, and that they intend to pursue the air pollution permit for the facility, now pending at Ohio EPA. The permit was written by a consultant hired by Tien, and relied on data and assumptions from Tien’s calculations.
Earth Day Coalition Executive Director Chris Trepal commented, “this whole proposal was built on a house of cards. The City should not be allowed to receive a permit for a facility whose foundation was so shaky that the consultant was fired for incompetence.”
Cleveland Public Power has asked City Council to approve a $200,000 contract for a consultant to study the potential for an incinerator and other forms of waste handling. Although information for the consultant to study wouldn’t be available until July 31, the administration wants Council to pass the ordinance as an “emergency” ordinance tonight.
“Everything about this project has been backwards,” commented Ann Marie Knotek, a neighbor of the proposed facility. “The city didn’t listen to the consultants they hired years ago who sent up warning flags about this whole project. What’s the rush to push through another $200,000 for a consultant? The mayor needs to start from a clean slate.”
— Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action and Chris Trepal, Earth Day Coalition
Read letter to the USEPA: http://ohiocitizen.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/USEPA_letter_4-8-12.docx
CLEVELAND — “Jeers…to Peter Tien, the consultant who finally has run out of chances to design a workable trash-to-energy plant for Cleveland. Tien has a couple of weeks to bill the city for work already done on a $1.5 million contract that has now been canceled. If he botches that as badly as he fouled up his work on the plant, he might end up paying the city.”
— editorial board, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Read the whole story: http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2012/03/cheers_jeers_126.html
— Maude L Campbell, Cleveland Scene Magazine
Back row: Christina Vasquez, Toby Bischoff, Lynn Rooks, Heather Stout, Brandon Nebeker, Ann Knotek, Nathan Rutz. Front row: Eric Dwyre, Rowan Kelley, Gwen, and Caelen.
CLEVELAND — ”When I found out about Cleveland’s proposed waste-to-energy plant, I wanted to know more. It didn’t take much research to realize that those in charge didn’t know what they were doing or were deliberately ignoring the facts.
The city and Cleveland Public Power like to argue that the only real opponents of this project are rabid and impractical environmentalists, mainly from ‘organizations.’ I definitely care about the environment, but I don’t belong to any such organization. But none of this even matters if you’re focused on the facts: The plan is built on a house of cards.
CPP and the city chose to do business with consultant Peter Tien; he and his promises have proven to be untrustworthy. They claimed this was neither an ‘incinerator’ nor a ‘major’ pollution source; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proven otherwise. They were, initially, wooed by visions of becoming a waste-to-energy headquarters for the entire country; that proved not to be viable. Hired consultants handed them a less-than-glowing feasibility report on the proposed project; they, excitedly, went ahead anyway.
If this is the way the city performs ‘due diligence’ in all of its planning, we need much more transparency and citizen involvement in Cleveland.”
— Ann Marie Knotek, Letter to the editor-Cleveland Plain Dealer
Read the letter here: http://blog.cleveland.com/letters/2012/03/clevelands_waste-to-energy_deb.html
CLEVELAND — “After receiving several drafts of reports laden with errors and ambiguous calculations, the City of Cleveland has fired the consultant responsible for designing a proposed trash-to-electricity plant.
…In February, the city made public a letter to Peter Tien, declaring him and his company to be in default of an agreement with the city to provide services necessary for the initial design and permitting of the proposed waste-to-energy plant. The letter cited delays, deficiencies and discrepancies in a draft design memorandum and gave Tien 10 days to correct them.
In the most recent letter, Withers points out that Tien’s analyses consistently estimate that the plant will bring the city more than $40 million in annual revenue –though numbers on which that calculation is based change from draft to draft.
In one version posted online by the environmental group Ohio Citizen Action, Tien projects the city would make $132,000 a day from the sale of electricity. In a later draft, that figure was changed to $15,840.
Tien’s reports never explain how he arrived at the city’s estimated revenue. And a simple calculation of the numbers provided in his latest draft shows that figure at about $34.5 million.”
— Leila Atassi, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Read the whole story: http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2012/03/cleveland_fires_waste-to-energ.html
HARRISBURG, PA — Eric Papenfuse owns a bookstore in Harrisburg, Pa. He used to be on the city agency in charge of basic municipal services — sewer, water, trash.
He’s giving me a tour of the town, known mainly these days for having more debt per resident than any other city in the country. The city got into so much debt because of the way it deals with garbage. So, Papenfuse drives me out to the edge of town to see the trash incinerator that sunk the city.
‘Welcome to the almost-$350-million-in-debt Harrisburg incinerator,’ he says.
Garbage trucks are pulling in and dumping huge mounds of trash. The trucks have to pay a fee to leave their trash here. Those fees were supposed to pay for the incinerator. It didn’t work out that way.
— Zoe Chace, NPR
Read the whole story here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/03/23/149057880/how-a-city-goes-broke
Ohio Citizen Action field and phone staff, back row left to right: Rowan Kelly, Mark Biszantz, Sarah Batke, Angela Oster, Lynn Rooks, Josh Biszantz, Sergio Sade, Curt Moultin, middle row: Gloria Zenisek, Heather Stout, Brandon Nebeker, front row: Molly Lutz, Eric Dwyre, Christian Bucknell
CLEVELAND – In just seven weeks Ohio Citizen Action members and friends sent 1,457 letters and telewires to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson urging him to scrap plans for a garbage incinerator at the Ridge Road Transfer Station and instead focus on recycling and composting. Cleveland citizens and hundreds of neighbors from the surrounding suburbs including Lakewood, Brecksville, North Olmsted, Cleveland Heights, Bay Village, Solon, Chagrin Falls, Euclid, and Brunswick Hills have all written letters to Mayor Jackson.
— Nathan Rutz, Cleveland area organizer, Ohio Citizen Action
Please don’t build the incinerator… Fresh air is important for humans and animals.
CLEVELAND — “The city also has greatly scaled back the size of the proposed plant to avoid having it classified as a major polluter, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently warned it could be. The Ohio EPA is reviewing those comments and the city’s new numbers to determine whether the draft air permit should be modified or denied. That is expected to take at least several weeks.
Critics and proponents of the project agree on two issues: It is ecologically and financially irresponsible to dump Cleveland municipal waste in a Lorain County landfill at a cost of at least $7 million a year. And coal-generated electricity, the lifeblood of Cleveland Public Power, is a proven polluter.
The need for a more sustainable model to generate energy and reduce refuse is clear. The method for achieving it is arguable.
Permit aside, the cost and financing of the project have not been settled. If the numbers don’t add up, Jackson needs to follow through on promises to kill or modify the project.”
— editorial, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Read the whole story: http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2012/03/cleveland_is_wise_to_scale_bac.html