Wastecon has secured an influential keynote speaker in Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens. Whether you love or hate him, remember he funded the infamous swift boat campaign to derail John Kerry's presidential campaign, or that he made his billions drilling the earth of climate warming fossil fuels, he has had a significant impact on the industry. More recently he has become somewhat of a reformed sinner. Last year he launched a $58 million marketing campaign, again designed to influence the presidential race, and to rail against our dependence on foreign oil, inadequate use of alternative energy, and lack of a clearly defined long-term sustainable energy policy. He offers "the Pickens Plan" that shifts energy consumption towards what he calls "patriotic" domestic sources including natural gas, biomass, geothermal, wind and solar.
Not coincidentally, Mr. Pickens's plan aligns with his own business interests. He is the founder and chairman of an energy-focused investment fund, BP Capital, as well as the majority shareholder in Clean Energy Fuels, a company that supplies fuel for natural gas vehicles. This is all the more reason that he is bound to have an impact and why the waste industry should pay attention.
As the waste industry through economic incentives as well as government programs increasingly utilizes waste as a resource rather than an environmental burden, investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, companies, and governmental agencies are applying both capital and brainpower to harnessing its potential as an energy source and other beneficial reuse. If Mr. Pickens has his way, he is likely to play a key role in this evolution...Read More »
Republic Services Inc. is selling $650 million in notes to pay off other notes maturing in 2010 and 2011, reduce debt and pay taxes related to the recent divestiture of assets. The new senior notes will be due in 2019, and carry an interest rate of 5.5 percent. Consequently, the company issued a tender offer for the purchase of up to $256 million in senior notes coming due in 2010 and 2011 that ranged from 5.75 percent to 6.75 percent. Another $250 million will be applied to the company's revolving credit facility and $105 million will be used for tax payments and the remainder of the cash will be used for general corporate purposes, including capital expenditures...Read More »
Waste Management, Inc. is investing in Terrabon, L.L.C. (also based in Houston, TX) to further their development of Terrabon's technology for converting waste to fuel. In addition to its undisclosed financial contribution to the development efforts, Waste Management, which joins Valero Energy Corp. as an investor, will assist Terrabon in securing organic waste streams. These and other waste streams will be used to produce high-octane gasoline using Terrabon's MixAlco acid fermentation process, which Terrabon has licensed from Texas A&M University. "We see waste as a resource to be recovered in a way that protects and enhances the environment, and this investment in Terrabon, together with Waste Management's other renewable energy initiatives, will help move Waste Management toward meeting two of its sustainability goals: doubling its renewable energy production and investing in emerging technologies for managing waste," said Carl Rush, vice president of organic growthat Waste Management...Read More »
Spent coal ash from the massive spill at a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) site in Kingston, TN last December has begun to arrive at the Arrowhead landfill in Perry County, AL, to the tune of nearly 8,500 tons on every trainload. The New York Times reports that the cleanup has been met with some controversy and skepticism. To county leaders, the plan to import 3 million tons of waste that was also approved by the US EPA, is a blessing and will contribute more than $3 million in host fees to an annual county budget of just $4.5 million. However, other residents accuse the TVA and the landfill company of environmental racism since the county is 70% black with a third of all households living below the poverty line. County leaders, who are mostly black, bristle at those accusations, saying arguing the ash is perfectly safe and that criticism has been fostered by outsiders, or even competitors who wanted the ash disposal contract for themselves. Bob Deacy, vice president of clean strategies and project development for the TVA said that Arrowhead was chosen because it was accessible by rail instead of truck, because it underbid other sites and because, unlike closer landfills, it had the capacity to handle all of the ash...Read More »
City of Honolulu officials have reached an agreement with Hawaiian Waste Systems (Seattle, WA) to ship waste to the mainland US while construction to expand the city's H-Power waste-to-energy plant progresses. Under the terms of the contract, 100,000 tons per year of municipal solid waste that would otherwise go to the city's Waimanalo Gulch Landfill will instead be shipped stateside. HWS is already shipping a similar amount from the Island of Oahu to the Roosevelt Regional Landfill in Washington State. The waste is weighed, compacted to a density of 1800 lbs per cubic yard, and wrapped in an air-tight film then trucked to a barge harbor and loaded onto flat-deck barges capable carrying between 8,000 and 10,000 ton loads. Because the city maintains flow control over its municipal waste, officials were concerned that integrity of the procurement process be maintained...Read More »
The saga of the Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA) in Virginia, which is heavily in debt, flirting with bankruptcy and charging its member municipalities the highest disposal rates in the country, is now considering proposals from private companies to buy some, or all, of its assets. Among the proposals is a $338 million offer from a New York company called ReEnergy Holdings LLC to buy all of SPSA's assets and privatize waste services in the region that is comprised of eight city and county member municipalities. The agency has also weighed selling its Portsmouth waste-to-energy plant. Complicating these efforts are ongoing battles between the members themselves. Some want to renegotiate contract terms originally signed in 1984 that capped tipping fees for Virginia Beach at no more than $66 per ton through 2015 and have allowed Suffolk to pay no fees as compensation for hosting the regional landfill that opened in 1985...Read More »
Members of the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) failed to muster enough votes to merge with Keep America Beautiful (KAB). Both NRC and KAB boards supported the measure which was seen as essential to insuring the financial viability of the NRC. Even though 57% favored the merger, a two-thirds majority is required under New York State law where the NRC is incorporated. From the outset many NRC members including some who formed a group called "Save the NRC" opposed the merger on the grounds that it would "eliminate NRC as an independent voice for recycling, giving recyclers just a limited advisory role in an organization that has historically failed to support the structural changes that are essential if progressive recycling policies are to be adopted in this country." They fear that many recycling initiatives and more importantly issues of producer responsibility will not be effectively represented under KAB. As a precaution to the success of the merger, they filed papers to form a separate competing organization called the Recycling Organizations of North America (RONA) and lined up a number of state recycling agencies in support of the effort...Read More »
Recycling prices which had plummeted last year in the wake of economic turmoil are slowly beginning to improve. According to Resource Recycling Magazine, modest increases in both foreign and domestic mill demand along with low inventories are driving increased prices for ferrous metals as well as recovered paper. The value of some forms of recyclable resin is higher as a result of rising feedstock costs for primary plastics producers...Read More »
Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc. (Pleasanton, CA) said it can economically produce renewable ethanol as proved at its TurningPoint Ethanol Demonstration Plant and confirms its new technologies that will be used in the large-scale production of transportation fuel from garbage. James Macias, Fulcrum President and CEO said that "By demonstrating first the clean and efficient conversion of garbage to syngas, and now syngas to ethanol, we have demonstrated that the technology is ready for deployment at our first large-scale project, the Sierra BioFuels Plant." The Sierra BioFuels Plant, located about 20 miles east of Reno, NV, is scheduled to begin operation in 2011 and will be one of the nation's first large-scale waste-to-ethanol facilities. The project will convert 90,000 tons of post-recycled municipal solid waste (MSW), the amount of trash produced by a city with a population of 165,000, into 10.5 million gallons of ethanol per year, a rate of 120 gallons of ethanol per ton of MSW. With long-term feedstock contracts in place, Fulcrum expects its cost of production to be less than $1 per gallon, significantly below that of today's conventional ethanol production...Read More »
Three companies and two universities in five states are to receive up to $21 million from the US Department of Energy (DOE) for cellulosic biofuels projects. According to the DOE, the funding will be used to develop systems to harvest, transport and store high-yield biomass feedstocks, including agriculture waste, switchgrass, wood chips and other plant sources, for cellulosic biofuels. "These projects will allow us to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, support the growth of the biofuels industry and create jobs here at home," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. Funding was awarded to Agco (Duluth, GA), FDC Enterprises (Columbus, OH), Genera Energy (Knoxville, TN), Auburn University in Alabama and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (Syracuse, NY). The funds are not from the economic stimulus package passed by Congress earlier this year, rather from annual appropriations, the availability of which was first announced in March...Read More »
The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA) has scuttled plans to build an ash landfill in Franklin, CT following vitriolic opposition from residents and politicians. Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal praised the decision for being "sensitive to the public interest and environmental values." Meanwhile, the CRRA has been shopping for an alternative disposal site for ash from its Hartford incinerator that has been going to the Hartford landfill which will close at the end of this year...Read More »
We Energies (Milwaukee, WI) has partnered with Domtar paper to build a $250 million biomass-fueled 50-megawatt power plant at Domtar's mill in Rothschild, WI. Last week, the company filed an application with the Public Service Commission to build the plant, which is scheduled for completion in 2013...Read More »
The Bi-County Landfill outside of Clarksville, TN received approval of its board to contract with Enerdyne Power Systems to install a "turn-key" landfill-gas-to-energy (LFGTE) project there. It will be Enerdyne's first in Tennessee joining others in Kentucky and the Carolinas. Enerdyne will build and operate the project which will use methane from the landfill to fire boilers that will drive two steam-powered, electricity-producing turbines. Bi-County will have the right to buy the project after 10 years...Read More »