12/18/08 — Recyling waste from refuse into revenue

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Recyling waste from refuse into revenue

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 18, 2008 1:46 PM

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Bulldozer and trash compactors work today at the sanitary landfill in Dudley. The trash they compact, once buried, produces methane gas during its decomposition. County commissioners are poised to contract with a company that would buy the gas produced at the landfill.

Wayne County Commissioners on Tuesday made public their intent to proceed with plans to contract with a company that wants to purchase methane gas created by the decomposition of garbage at the county landfill at Dudley.

The company would use the gas to generate electricity.

The county has been negotiating for more than a year with MP Wayne, LLC on the project.

MP Wayne officials first approached the county in 2002 and made a proposal to buy the methane gas from the county to convert it to electricity and sell it. But the deal went dormant.

"For a long period of time nothing happened," County Attorney Borden Parker said. "We started looking to see if we could find someone else who was interested. As we looked for that, these people came back to us and said 'we are ready to go.'"

The lease was a topic during a closed session Tuesday morning after which the board announced its intentions.

However, it could still be years before the plan comes to fruition.

First, the proposed lease is not satisfactory to the county, Parker said. He did not elaborate since negotiations are ongoing.

"We have been negotiating, trying to get a lease that is satisfactory both to them and the county," Parker said.

The company would lease property at the landfill to put equipment on to get the gas out and convert it to electricity. It also would lease the ability to get the gas out of the landfill.

The company wants a 20-year lease to make it profitable before it spends money to buy the expensive needed for the process, Parker said.

"Then we will get a first payment of $20,000 and then every month we will get $100 plus 3.5 percent of their gross income," Parker said.

Parker said that might not sound like a lot of money but that "in these times every bit of money we can get, money from something that we are not getting money from now" would be helpful.

Once the lease is approved the company will have a year to order the equipment.

"I have been told that once it is ordered it will take up to 12 months to deliver it," Parker said.

Any time the county plans to lease something for as long as 20 years it is required to give public notice that it is being considered.

"The action they took today is just that they are considering it," Parker said. "They have not agreed to sign the lease and the lease is not in a form that I would recommend that they sign it."

No public hearing is required, but making a statement of intent allows the public an opportunity to comment, he said.

Parker said he is hopeful the lease will be ready for commissioners to act on by Jan. 6.

In other business, commissioners decided to table action on a water service agreement between the county and the Eastern Wayne Sanitary District. The proposal calls for the county to build a 500,000-gallon water tank in Park East and a 12-inch water line loop for the city's water main on Challen Court and Thorough-fare Road. The water district would extend a 12-inch water line into the industrial park. The county has received $500,000 grants from both the N.C. Department of Commerce and N.C. Rural Center. The county would provide a local match of $290,000.

The contract calls for the county give the tank to the water district. Commissioners, however, questioned whether it would be better to retain ownership and lease the tank.

Concerns also were raised about the intermingling of water from the city and district systems.

The project was discussed during the briefing session held prior to the board meeting. It was decided during the briefing session to remove the item from the agenda to allow County Manager Lee Smith and Parker to address the board's concerns. Commissioner Jack Best asked Smith to have the contract ready several days prior to the meeting so that commissioners would have time to study it. The issue is expected to be put back before commissioners at their Jan. 6 meeting.

Commissioners set the tax-listing period to run from Jan. 2 through 31.

Any listing made after Jan. 31 will be subject to a penalty of 10 percent of the taxes levied. Failure to list property is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

No listing needs to be made on real estate unless improvements have been made since Jan. 1 or unless the owner's address has changed.

All people residing in the county on Jan. 1, whether temporarily or not, are required to make a return here.

Tax listers should do so at the county Tax Department in the courthouse annex at 224 E. William St..

Commissioners also agreed to apply for a $9,375 grant from the state Industrial Develop-ment Fund of the state Department of Commerce Utility Account Project Assistance to help pay for a natural gas line to be run to the Triangle Suspension Corp. that will locate in the Mount Olive Industrial Park. The company, which makes springs for heavy-duty truck suspensions, will share the building now occupied by IMPulse, NC. The county will provide a $3,125 match if the grant is approved.

The board agreed to cancel its Jan. 20 meeting since most members will be unable to attend. Several will be attending a class in New Bern. Smith said the board also could reschedule the meeting if needed.