Weekly News Bulletin: May 12-18, 2011


Waste Management Places another Bet: Invests in "Allothermal Gasification Technology"

Waste Management, Inc. (Houston, TX) is making yet another bet on waste conversion technologies with an investment in Agnion Energy Inc., a company developing an "allothermal gasification technology" that converts biomass feedstock into a hydrogen and carbon monoxide-rich synthetic gas (syngas) with exceptionally high heating value. According to the company, the gas "is ideally suited for combined heat and power applications and can be converted into liquids, hydrogen, and methanol di-methyl-ether and or substitute natural gas." "Waste Management wants to maximize the value of the materials it manages," said Tim Cesarek, managing director of organic growth at Waste Management. "Agnion's technology complements Waste Management's advancement of thermo-chemical conversion technology platforms and could enhance our suite of waste processing options." Agnion Energy has sales offices and R&D facilities in Pfaffenhofen, Germany, and research and developmentfacilities in Hettenshausen, Germany. Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Munich Venture Partners and Wellington Partners are also participating in the investment...Read More »



Environmentalists Sue EPA over Decision to Exempt Biomass from GHG Permits

Environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, the Conservation Law Foundation and the Natural Resources Council of Maine, filed suit last month over EPA's plan to exempt biomass-fired and other biogenic fuel sources from having to meet first-time greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting rules, claiming that the agency does not have authority to retroactively exclude biomass facilities from the rules' scope. On March 21, EPA issued a proposed rule to defer GHG permitting requirements for biomass for three years. Also, the proposal a final decision to reconsider inclusion of biomass in its "tailoring" rule establishing GHG permit limits. Biomass was included in the final version of the tailoring rule, though the agency acknowledges in the text of that rule that the issue was not addressed specifically in its proposal. While the rule was under development, the National Association of Forest Owners (NAFO) and other groups repeatedly urged the agency in public comments to exempt biomass facilities from the scope of GHG permits. Biomass supporters argue that the fuel is "carbon neutral" because plants absorb the same amount of carbon when they grow as they emit when burned. As part of the reconsideration process EPA first announced Jan. 12 its plan to defer for three years GHG permitting requirements for biomass-fired and other biogenic sources. Environmentalists are filing suit to try to block the exclusion of biomass from the tailoring rule, pointing to new studies that show higher-than-expected GHG emissions levels from such facilities...Read More »



Veolia Quarterly Profit Slips, Though Waste Treatment Improves

Veolia Environnement SA said first quarter earnings slipped 1.1 percent with a decline in its water business and despite improved waste collection and treatment business and higher prices for recycled materials. Consolidated adjusted operating income fell to 636.1 million Euros from a restated 643.2 million Euros a year earlier. Revenue rose 11 percent to 8.16 billion Euros. Veolia, which supplies water to about 110 million people worldwide and collects and manages waste for about 50 million, also provides public transportation in 28 countries and supplies energy in Europe and the US. Revenue from the treatment of hazardous waste and commercial waste collection grew organically by 10 percent during the latest period reflecting the benefit of higher recycled raw material prices, which accounted for approximately 90 million Euros (notably in France and Germany) and despite slightly lower volumes as a result of a harsh winter. Chief Executive Officer Antoine Frerot is selling assets in a bid to cut debt following a 2007 and 2008 acquisition spree by former CEO Henri Proglio...Read More »



Another Suitor for Troubled Harrisburg Incinerator

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's troubled incinerator which has threatened to put the capital city into bankruptcy has now garnered a second purchase offer in a deal that could relieve the city of a large part of its $310 million debt burden. The latest proposal comes from New York financier Jacob Frydman (LambdaStar Infrastructure Partners LP and EQT Infrastructure Ltd.) who is offering an upfront payment of $140 million to lease and operate the incinerator for 99 years. However, that offer stipulates that the city must also agree to the venture's previous offer to lease its parking garages and lots, for either 75 years for $215 million or 50 years for $195 million. It would also require the city and county to create a joint authority to own the plant. The second major offer came from the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA), which increased its previous offer to buy the Harrisburg incinerator from $45 million to $124 million. The bid, which started at $45 million in March, was recently raised with conditions: the city and county must guarantee the amount of waste available to generate power and the electricity rates it can charge. LCSWMA's CEO James Warner said that the new offer still allows lower disposal fees for the city which he estimates would result in savings of $109 million over 20 years. He has said that acquiring the Harrisburg facility would be cheaper and less risky than expanding Lancaster's own site, 18 miles away...Read More »



Rentech to Build $500 Million Biomass-to-Jet Fuel Plant in Ontario

Alternative energy developer Rentech Inc. (Los Angeles, CA) plans to build a $500 million biomass-to-fuel plant in White River, Ont. Ontario's Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry has awarded Rentech the use of a forestry lot about 300 kilometers north of Sault Ste. Marie. Once operational, the plant will convert about 1.1 million cubic meters per year of Crown timber into 85 million liters annually of low-carbon jet fuel. "This will be the largest renewable clean jet fuel program in the world," Rentech's CEO D. Hunt Ramsbottom said in a statement. The investment would be in partnership with Pic River First Nations community, which could own up to 18 percent of the project in exchange for cash from a government program. Construction on the project, called the Olympiad Renewable Energy Centre, is scheduled to begin in 2013 and be ready for commercial production in 2015...Read More »



Waste Management to Develop New Organics Facility in Florida

Waste Management, Inc. (Houston, TX) is continuing to expand its organic waste recycling and conversion capabilities with the development of a new organics facility in Apopka, FL. The facility will be co-located with the company's Vista Landfill there and similar to another one, announced earlier this year, the company is developing that is also co-located with a landfill in Okeechobee, FL. The facilities will process yard, food and clean wood waste to create value added soil amendments and are part of company efforts to expand its organics recycling solutions and key to developing new, high value-added end markets for organic materials that will accelerate growth in that market across North America. Last year, Waste Management acquired a majority equity interest in Garick LLC, a leading manufacturer, marketer and distributor of organic lawn and garden products, which has served to expand Waste Management's organics recycling capabilities to over 1 million tons. The company has also invested in new and emerging technologies to convert organic energy into transportation fuels, and ultimately, petrochemicals and chemicals.

Earlier this month, Waste Management made an investment of an undisclosed amount in the Peninsula Compost Co., which owns and operates the Wilmington Organic Recycling Center (WORC) in Wilmington, Delaware. The WORC facility processes 250 to 300 tons of organic waste per day and claims to be the only fully operational and permitted in-vessel organics processing center in the Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia area. According to the company, approximately 80 million tons of organic waste is generated in North America each year...Read More »



Clean Harbors' First Quarter Profits Double

Clean Harbors, Inc. (Norwell, MA) reported that first quarter profits nearly doubled on growth across all lines of its business. Net income rose to $22.7 million, or 86 cents a share, from $10.4 million, or 40 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue rose 23 percent to $435 million from $354.9 million for the first quarter of 2010. "Our first-quarter performance reflects broad-based growth across all of our segments," CEO Alan S. McKim said. "Within our environmental business, we achieved revenue growth of nearly 30% at our TSDFs [treatment, storage and disposal facilities], while revenue at our wastewater treatment plants increased more than 50% as a result of refinery and frac water-related volumes." The firm benefited both from increased activity at its treatment, storage, and disposal facilities and from higher volume in its wastewater treatment plants. Additionally, large-scale project work, which had fallen off in 2009 and early 2010 owing to the economic downturn, is rebounding and increased top-line growth by more than 25 percent in that business alone. Clean Harbors currently has more than 175 locations, including more than 50 waste management sites. Clean Harbors calls itself the largest hazardous waste disposal company in North America...Read More »



Veolia ES Buys Three Haulers in Pennsylvania, Alabama and Illinois

Veolia ES Solid Waste, Inc. (Milwaukee, WI) said it acquired three waste collection firms in Pennsylvania, Alabama and Illinois. All three acquisitions are said to be "tuck-ins" as they dovetail with existing company markets and the volumes of waste collected can be internalized into existing Veolia landfills. Financial details of the acquisitions were not disclosed. The three companies are JC Sanitation, LLC of McClellandtown, PA, Treesmith, Inc. of Tuscaloosa, AL, and Suburban Disposal and Recycling, Inc. of Warrensburg, IL. "These acquisitions align with our strategy of purchasing assets of smaller, independent waste companies in order to expand Veolia's existing operations within these integrated markets," says Jim Long, president and CEO of Veolia ES Solid Waste, Inc...Read More »



Covanta Sets Aside another $100 Million to Repurchase Shares

Covanta Holding Corporation (Morristown, NJ) said its Board of Directors has authorized another $100 million to buy back its shares. Since June last year, the company has sought to enhance shareholder value by repurchasing stock at opportune times in the markets. To date, it has $300 million for that purpose. "Today´s action continues to demonstrate our commitment to actively returning capital while pursuing our very promising energy-from-waste development pipeline," Chief Financial Officer Sanjiv Khattri said. "Since we began this program in June 2010 and the end of this year's first quarter, we have returned approximately $390 million to shareholders through a combination of share repurchases, a special dividend and the institution of an ongoing quarterly cash dividend," Khattri said...Read More »



Orlando, FL Considers Breakthrough Sewage-to-Energy Facility

A Florida-based company is proposing to build a first-of-its-kind commercial scale sludge-to-energy facility in Orlando, Florida under a novel revenue sharing agreement with the city. The company, called SuperWater Solutions (Wellington, FL), has built a pilot plant that employs "supercritical water oxidation" to treat wastewater plant sludge to create heat along with higher value byproducts, including inorganic salts, clean water, and liquid carbon dioxide. The plant takes sludge which is thickened, fed through a grinder and then pumped through a reactor where it is mixed with pure oxygen and heated to more than 700 degrees under high pressure. There it forms "supercritical water" which destroys more than 99 percent of organic matter and produces heat which can be captured or converted to electricity. Proponents of the process claim that the sludge contains about the same energy value of coal, although the plant cannibalizes about half of that energy to operate, the remainder of which can then be sold to a utility at a "green energy" premium. SuperWater Solutions said it is ready to build a commercial scale facility and has struck a deal with the City of Orlando pay them a royalty if the company builds plants elsewhere...Read More »



New Study Describes Benefits and Types of Waste Plastics-to-Fuels Technologies

The American Chemistry Council has released a study it commissioned that examines various approaches to converting waste plastics into fuels while touting its two-fold benefit: transforming non-recycled plastic into a valuable commodity, and creating a reliable source for alternative energy from an abundant, no-cost feedstock. The study, entitled "Conversion technology: A complement to plastic recycling" and conducted by 4R Sustainability, Inc., argues that employing these technologies could greatly expand US plastics recycling while providing a cost-effective source of alternative energy. The information presented is intended to help inform government officials, plastics reclaimers, materials recovery facility managers, and investors about the range of available technologies and under what conditions each could fit in commercial or community waste management plans...Read More »



Energy Investors Funds Raises $1.5 Billion, Targeting Renewable Energy

Energy Investors Funds (EIF), which focuses exclusively on power investments in the US, said it has received about $1.5 billion for its fourth investment fund which hopes to reach $1.75 billion. The US power fund generally invests in power plants that have power purchase agreements with utilities at a fixed price to generate power. Earlier this year EIF acquired Innovative Energy Systems, which owns and operates 11 landfill gas-to-energy projects in New York and Vermont. The company's portfolio includes developed projects with installed capacity of 72 megawatts supplying over 42,000 homes with renewable energy...Read More »



Perma-Fix Posts First Quarter Loss on Lower Prices

Perma-Fix Environmental Services, Inc. (Atlanta, GA) reported a first quarter loss on flat revenue. The company posted a loss of $321,000, or 1 cent per share, compared to earning $638,000, or 1 cent per share, a year ago. Revenue remained the same at $23.6 million. CEO Louis F. Centofanti said, "[margins] were impacted by lower priced waste streams than the same period last year." Perma-Fix now derives most of its revenue from its nuclear division, in which it processes and disposes of radioactive waste from hospitals, research labs, utilities and government installations including the site in Hanford, WA...Read More »



Ameresco Reports Strong First Quarter Results

Ameresco, Inc. (Framingham, MA), which sells and installs solar and other renewable energy products including landfill gas-to-energy facilities, said first quarter profits quadrupled on revenue that was up 39 percent, the result of what its CEO called "unseasonably strong" results. Net income rose to $5.3 million, or 12 cents per share, from $1.3 million, or 3 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue grew 39 percent to $146.4 million. "Ameresco continued to execute our strategic plan, delivering unseasonably strong first quarter results. Continued momentum from installation activity, recurring revenue from our higher margin offerings, and increased operational efficiencies helped drive our earnings," CEO George P. Sakellaris said. He is optimistic that rising energy costs, budgetary constraints, aging infrastructure, and a greater awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency will drive demand for his company's services...Read More »


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