Waste-to-energy plant yields jobs

| Print |  Email
Articles - April 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Landfills have never been popular, and with recycling rates rising it’s no surprise that the U.S. waste industry is pouring dollars into the development of alternative disposal technologies. But the prospect of a green waste industry may be a little scary for communities whose livelihoods depend on burying trash. A new waste-to-energy pilot plant in Arlington shows that there may still be jobs in waste, no matter how fancy the technology gets.

S4 Energy Solutions plans to start construction in May on a cutting-edge waste-to-energy plant at the Columbia Ridge Landfill in Arlington, the company announced last month. S4 Energy Solutions, based in Houston, is a 50-50 joint venture between trash giant Waste Management and InEnTec, a Bend company that has developed a plasma gasification process that zaps household waste into a synthetic gas (syngas) that can be used to produce electricity or — hopefully — liquid fuels. S4 won’t disclose the cost of the plant, set to open at year’s end. It will create up to 28 construction jobs and 16 permanent jobs, which CEO Jeff Surma hopes to fill locally.

The plant is expected to process 25 tons of municipal solid waste a day, capable of producing between 10 million and 15 million BTUs an hour. If the technology proves functional and commercially viable, the Arlington plant will be the first of its kind in the country. There’s just one snag: What to do with the syngas. It theoretically can be converted into ethanol or even diesel, but that technology is still not fully developed. “We don’t know what we want to do with it,” says Jackie Lang, a local spokeswoman for Waste Management.

The company could convert syngas into electricity using combustion engines it owns. But Surma says it wouldn’t make sense to do that in Eastern Oregon, which already produces a lot of electricity from windmills. Whether S4 chooses to scale up will depend on whether it can generate the kind of energy that’s needed in the Northwest, he says.

Gilliam county commissioner Dennis Gronquist says he’s happy to have S4 in town. The project was a pleasant surprise for the county. S4 originally had considered building the plant in Texas.

ADRIANNE JEFFRIES
 

More Articles

Downtime with Debra Ringold

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Dean of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University


Read more...

Reader Input: Road Work

March 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oregon's roads are crumbling, and revenues from state and local gas taxes are not sufficient to pay for improvements. We asked readers if the private sector should help fund transportation maintenance and repairs. Research partner CFM Strategic Communications conducted the poll of 366 readers in February.

0315 input01 620px

 

Reader comments:

"I feel private enterprises are capable of operating at a higher efficiency than state government."

"This has been used in Oregon since the mid-1800s. It is not a new financing method. This form of financing may help Oregon close its infrastructure deficit by leveraging funds."


Read more...

Best Foot Forward

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

Whether you're stepping out to work or onto the track, Pacific Northwest shoe companies have you covered.


Read more...

House of Clarity

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Holding a Power Lunch at Veritable Quandary in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Apartment Mania

Guest Blog
Thursday, June 18, 2015
4805983977 11466ce1d6 zBY BRAD HOULE | CFA

While most categories of commercial real estate have performed well, one of the most robust has been apartment buildings.


Read more...

Marijuana law ushers in new business age

The Latest
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
062315panelthumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

Oregon’s new marijuana law is expected to lead to a bevy of new business opportunities for the state. And not just for growers. Law firms, HR consultants, energy efficiency companies and many others are expected to benefit from the decriminalization of pot, according to panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast meeting on Tuesday.


Read more...

5 things to know about veterans in the workforce

The Latest
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
070215-vetsthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

There are more than 10 million former military members working in the United States.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS