Biomass Incinerator Conversion to Natural Gas Could Solve Noise and Pollution Problems Reply

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Complete GRU/GREC Power Purchase Ageement PPA – Unredacted PDF Version

Updated, 10/2/2013

Bravo!  Todd Chase finally asked the question about converting the Biomass plant to Natural Gas.

When he was told that conversion to Ngas is not possible, Chase caved and failed to press for real evidence to support the “no” answer.   For some reason, the commission loses courage to follow up on good questions.  That’s why we’re in such a mess in Gainesville, and now Turkey Creek.

The biomass plant only exists because a natural gas line is already installed to the incinerator to initiate the burning of biomass chips that are unable to ignite “spontaneously”.

In fact, the PPA contract fine print stipulates that NGas should not be run any longer than necessary past successful ignition of the biomass fuel. In other words, Ngas is the main generator fuel until someone decides to turn it off.

 “4.4.2 Seller shall not use any fuel inconsistent with the foregoing without the prior written approval of Purchaser; provided, however, propane and/or natural gas may be used as start-up fuels to the extent such use would not jeopardize the Energy produced by the Facility from qualifying for RECs.”  (Renewable Energy Credits). – (Page 11, PDF)

This tricky stipulation warns against using natural gas as the main fuel otherwise GREC would lose out on renewable energy credits (REC’s).  This is why we need to demand real and unbiased answers about possibility of burning natural gas even if the conversion appears to be costly.

Anything is Possible – for a price
If the commission would have the courage to contract an independent feasibility study the answer would most likely come back as “yes, for a price”.

Without natural gas the Biomass incinerator would never get hot enough produce electricity.

Ed Regan mugIn this clip you will hear Ed Regan assure the commission they can essentially opt-out of biomass by burning natural gas instead.  Just as a butane lighter will “ignite” a cigarette, natural gas is already in place as an essential fuel to “ignite” the GRU/GREC wood-burning incinerator.

“Now you could burn gas in it, natural gas”

“If they don’t have enough fuel and can’t meet our targets they have to pay us liquidated damages”

When noise or ash from the incinerator is considered to be a nuisance or health hazard, GREC has essentially failed to meet GRU’s “targets” by not providing “suitable” fuel regardless the quantity of pellets delivered to Deerhaven.  The same holds true if GREC asserts there is a design flaw in the Biomass incinerator. The bottom line is that GREC has failed to meet established targets of performance set by PPA contract.

JohnStantonJohn Stanton is head of the Energy Supply Department for GRU.  Among his responsibilities is “reliability management” and “procurement and management of fuels”.  It’s now Stanton’s job to support a conversion of the biomass incinerator to natural gas based on the failure of GREC to provide fuel that meets PPA contract specifications.

Before the City considers purchasing GREC’s incinerator it will be Stanton’s job to justify the noise and ash pollution already evident during it’s brief but highly annoying start-up that now extends into the City of Alachua and Alachua County.  Noise complaints filed by Turkey Creek homeowners are now being reported inside a three (3) mile radius from Deerhaven. Incinerator ash “fell like snow” in the front yard of Lynn Coullias, a resident of Hague, an historic area of old US 441.

If the incinerator cannot be converted to natural gas as promised, the PPA contract is terminated.

Without a willing buyer, the value of the generator is the price of tearing it down and hauling it away.

The future of the GREC incinerator as clean energy looks bleak.  In economic terms this translates to a wood-burning incinerator with no resale value except as scrap metal.

Harrisburg PA, experienced a similar BIO-MESS disaster that resulted in bankruptcy. (TV-20)

To cure this problem the The new back-out clause is conversion from biomass to natural gas.

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