2010 Jan. 28: NC Spring Hope: Officials insist biomass plant safe, beneficial

2010 Jan. 28: NC Spring Hope: Officials insist biomass plant safe, beneficial


The proposed bio-fuel plant in Spring Hope should be a clean neighbor.

That’s the word from Preston Curtis, manager of ALP Generation LLC, and Rudy Suto, a consultant with United Supply of the Pittsburgh, Pa. area.

“There shouldn’t be any contamination,” Curtis said. “The plant will produce clean, renewable energy.”

Suto said the plant will be carbon-neutral, as required by the federal government. “Instead of coal, we’ll be burning wood chips,” he said. “You can’t burn particulate board or wood with chemicals. It will be clean. And, most likely, you won’t see any smoke coming out of the smokestack. It’s a clean process.”

Suto said the U.S. government strictly limits particulates. “We will definitely follow the government standard. We have to,” he said.

Similar bio-fuel plants have been operating in the country for over 20 years.

“That’s why we chose this technology,” Suto said. “We’re going to be using all of that experience.”

Neither Curtis nor Suto knew how much water would be used once the plant is operational, but said it would use quite a lot.

Curtis said the wells on the site at the old Rockwool plant are not now in operation. There are also ponds on the site.

“It will take a lot of water for a 20-megawatt plant,” Curtis said. “But we have several options. Right now we’re just in the planning stage, so we’ve got plenty of time to decide.”

“It (the plant) will not use any more water than what is available,” Suto said. “There is plenty of water available, but if it is not enough, there are other ways to cool. We can use groundwater, so I don’t think water is a problem.”

Spring Hope Town Manager John Holpe said no one from the company has talked with him about water for the plant.

Holpe said the town currently has the capacity to use 250,000 gallons of water per day and is currently using about 133,000 gallons per day on average.

ALP Generation has already gotten its certificate of convenience and necessity for a similar plant in Bertie County.

“I’ve worked with these people,” Curtis said. “They know what they are doing.”

He said the North Carolina Utilities Commission has not received any complaints about the proposed Spring Hope plant.

“We’re waiting on the certificate,” Curtis said. “Then we’ll get together with Progress Energy and they’ll have a set rate (to buy energy from the plant). It depends on what they pay. Of course, someone else might give us a better rate.”

Suto said the plant could bring in wood either by trucks or by rail on the currently unused railroad tracks at the plant. Curtis said he has talked with railroad officials and they told him the railroad would be ready when the plant is ready.

“It won’t be detrimental in any way,” Suto said. “This should be good for the economy of the town and the area. He said it would probably mean about 400 construction jobs to convert the facility and would create another 50 or so jobs to keep the plant operational.

“I believe it will be a shining star in the community and we’ll be there for the long term. We’ll be a good neighbor. Everything is looking wonderful and the financing is in good shape,” he said. “And everything will be done by the rules and regulations.”

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