Supervisors move forward on waste-to-energy project
Glenn County approved a memorandum of understanding this week in support of a proposed solid waste conversion facility to be built east of Orland.
However, the potential foreclosure of the site property almost derailed the agreement, until supervisors were assured it likely would not occur and the agreement could be canceled if the owner were unable to fulfill her obligations.
Kara Baker of KVB, Inc. wants to build the conversion center on acreage her family owns off Highway 32 about five miles east of town near Stony Creek in the Hamilton City area.
The facility would convert solid waste from the county's waste stream into a usable product, and extract recyclable materials so they would not go into the landfill, Supervisor Leigh McDaniel said.
It would use technology to make these items into "green" products or energy sources and should operate at 85 percent efficiency, he said, without creating pollution or troubling the neighbors.
"Do we follow our philosophy of green technology and waste management?" McDaniel asked.
"We either start this now or wait 50 years when it becomes a mandate. I say start it now."
The proposed project has been discussed for almost three years and Glenn County officials have supported the concept all along.
But the foreclosure threat from Lafayette Capital Group, Inc. of Lafayette worried Supervisor Tracey Quarne.
"This is nothing personal," Quarne said to Baker during Tuesday's board meeting. "I agree with the philosophy behind this project and that it is a good idea, but the project is subject to foreclosure on Sept. 1."
Baker said she had worked to resolve many of the issues with the lender.
And its letter, included in the board's packet, also said the group would not proceed with foreclosure if the county approved the MOU on Tuesday.
A letter dated July 16, suggests while the Baker Family Trust was in technical default on its loan, Lafayette Capital Group had no intention of foreclosing as long as Baker's project moves forward and is supported by Glenn County.
A third requirement is that the financial group and Baker come to an agreement to modify its financial interest in the property by Sept. 30. The letter was signed by Lloyd J. Torcho, II, the corporate secretary.
McDaniel, who has worked with Baker on the project for some time, said members of Lafayette Capital Group are excited about the waste conversion project and are seeking investors for it.
Ultimately, Baker has six months to push the project ahead and must demonstrate success to the county in order for the MOU to remain in effect, county officials said.
This includes bringing in verified technology partners into the project, providing projected waste stream information, a business plan and that environmental clearances are granted from the state.
The final performance deadline is in December 2011 - assuming the other details are met earlier.
County Counsel Huston Carlyle said he had reviewed the MOU and believes it protects the county's interests.
At the same time, Glenn County will not put any money into the project except for staff time related to its review, officials said.
If the facility is built, it would be done in phases beginning with a materials recovery section, then a thermal gasification phase and finally another section with complementary technology to handle additional waste from outside the county.
Tuesday's meeting also brought comment from Tim Magill of Waste Management, Inc., the county's contracted waste hauler.
Magill expressed concern at KVB's authority to select waste haulers instead of the county, but said his company would not fight with the county about it. Waste Management also contracts with the cities of Willows and Orland to provide garbage service.
Board Chairman Steve Soeth asked why Waste Management officials did not respond to the county's request for qualifications this spring.
Magill said his company did not think the county's waste volume made it "economically feasible" to bid on the waste conversion project.
"They did not think it made much sense," he said, even though they have spent millions on waste conversion technologies.
With that, Magill offered to pay for an engineer to "vet" whatever numbers KVB provides on volume streams and related issues before the county fully commits to sending waste to the project.
Quarne asked it be an engineer of the county's choice rather than a Waste Management consultant.
In the end, Quarne voted for the MOU along with the other four supervisors since the county can opt out if KVB does not succeed, he said.