The Southeast Berrien County Landfill Board has expressed interest in a trash-to-energy company. (Daily Star photo/AARON MUELLER)

Archived Story

Landfill takes another step

Published 11:07pm Thursday, May 26, 2011

BERTRAND TOWNSHIP — The Southeast Berrien County Landfill Authority Board took a step toward turning its trash into energy at a special meeting Thursday.

EnerTech, a waste-to-energy company out of Fishers, Ind., gave a presentation to the board last week requesting a long-term lease of 22 acres of landfill property and feedstock. In turn the company would convert that trash into synthetic diesel fuel.

The board Thursday unanimously agreed to send a letter of intent to EnerTech, expressing the board will enter into negotiations with the company if it can come up with the financing and permitting for the project.

The first phase of the project is projected to cost $50 million, but EnerTech has several interested investors.

The authority board, made up of two representatives from each of the five municipalities that own the landfill, formed a committee to investigate the proposal from EnerTech.

Marty Couture, the chairman of the committee, said the proposal from EnerTech has a “significant upside to it” with the possibility of increased revenues, although how much of the money the landfill sees would be determined in negotiations.

If the landfill strikes a deal with EnerTech, it would also cancel the need to build a new cell, which would cost $2 million, Couture said. Landfill board chairman Bill Weimer said the project would actually shrink the size of the facility, since it would gradually use the trash already stored there for conversion into fuel.

EnerTech is proposing that the landfill provide all the trash that comes into the facility for the production of the fuel. The municipalities and local schools would benefit in getting the fuel at a highly reduced cost.

The project would also create 40 to 50 jobs in its first phase. EnerTech officials have indicated they will try to hire locally whenever possible, Couture said.

There is a bit of a sense of urgency from the board, as EnerTech is also considering six other sites where it could implement the technology.

Couture added that the company’s facility would be indoors and would include a 100,000-gallon storage tank for the fuel.

The landfill, located on Mayflower Road in Bertrand Township, is owned by Niles, Buchanan and Bertrand townships and the cities of Niles and Buchanan. If the deal goes through, it would end the more than year-long debate among board members and residents about whether to sell the facility.

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