County Comment: Green Energy on commissioners' Agenda

Disabilities Awareness Month Proclaimed. Members of ten Disabilities Advisory Committee accept the Proclamation from Commissioner John Barr.

County Comment
Green Energy on commissioners' Agenda
by Norman Bassett, Public Information Officer
Washington County, Maryland

The Washington County Board of County Commissioners heard proposals from two companies that want to help with the County's green energy needs in its meeting on October 7th.
The presentations, from Curtis Engine and Equipment, Inc. and Bluewater Wind, were part of a comprehensive look at alternate energy sources available to the County. Such a study is a component of a Commissioners Goal for 2008.
Methane gas produced as a byproduct of the landfill process could be used to generate energy, Albert Grimes, President of Curtis Engine and Equipment said. The gas would be extracted from capped cells at Resh Landfill, piped to an on-site plant built by Curtis, and used to generate electric power, which would then be sold to power companies.
Curtis was founded in Maryland in 1944 and has a reputation as a one-stop provider of power generation equipment to industrial, commercial, and governmental customers throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. A recent success has been in Worcester County, with completion of a Landfill Gas to Electricity (LFGE) project.
Grimes told the Board that there are approximately 400 operational projects in the U.S. with another 600 landfills that are candidates for LFGE projects. Landfill gas (LFG) is produced continuously and projects have demonstrated reliability of over 90%.
LFG can act as a long-term price and volatility hedge against fossil fuels - the fuel source for electricity generation is free.
Over 50% of the waste that we generate ends up in landfills, where it decays and produces LFG, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. The gas is around 50% methane (CH4), around 50% carbon dioxide (CO2), and less than 1% non-methane organic compounds (NMOC's)
Grimes said that every 1 million tons of municipal solid waste in place is capable of producing 1 megawatt of electricity and that each megawatt of electricity produced from LFG is equivalent to planting 13,000 acres of trees per year, removing the emissions of 9,327 cars per year, preventing the use of 100,000 barrels of oil per year, and could power 650 homes per year.
The Commissioners gave consensus for a preliminary partnership with the company, and Curtis officials will tour Resh landfill to determine if there is enough potential capacity for a viable energy producing operation. If a project was approved, there would be no capital cost to the County, Grimes said.
Clean energy produced by wind power was also on the agenda, with a presentation from the Blue Wind Maryland Project, which would construct windmills off Maryland's Eastern Shore, about 12 miles from Ocean City.
David Blazer, project director for the Maryland Project, described the company's similar endeavor in Delaware, which is constructing windmills off Rehoboth Beach, that Governor Martin O'Malley has expressed interest in contracting with for procurement of future energy needs.
Blazer presented data showing locations for viable wind power production. In order for a project to be built, winds must blow about 90% of the time. Conditions are favorable off the east coast. Mountaintops in local Counties would not be commercially viable, as the volume of wind is not sufficient in those areas, Blazer said.'
A number of County governments would need to provide long-term agreements for purchase of the wind-generated power in order for the Maryland project to come to fruition, he said.
In other actions by the Board, October was designated Disabilities Awareness Month by proclamation.
Davina Yutzy, of the Division of Environmental Management water laboratory staff was presented with a Commissioners' Certificate of Merit for being proclaimed "Maryland Laboratory Analyst of the Year" by the Chesapeake Water Environmental Association.
Laura Reamy, Office Associate in The Gaming Office was also honored by Certificate of Merit for modernizing the office database through entry of information on 70,000 tip jar sales.
The Board extended the deadline for enforcement of the County Weed Ordinance for up to 30 days for Deane Joyce, a property owner on Mondell Road, while seeds from grasses and other plants are harvested.
A resolution to allow PNC Bank to serve as Trustee for the employee health plan was approved.
A request for rezoning of 17.4 acres at Precision Place near I-81 from Industrial Residential (IR) to Highway Interchange 1 (HI-1) was approved.
A request to advertise for an Assignment Clerk/Jury Coordinator position for Circuit Court was approved.
Departmental staff updated progress on Goals for fiscal year 2008.
A bid award for an ATM/kiosk machine for depositing funds into inmate accounts at the Detention Center to Cashless Systems, Inc. of Apex North Carolina in the amount of $33,050.00 was approved. Sheriff Doug Mullendore said the devise will save personnel hours and allow for more efficient operation in his department.
A proposed Special Events Ordinance received a first review. The Ordinance is designed to require permits for all special events except those sponsored by the Board of Education, private golf facilities or licensed recreational sites or structures designed for public gatherings. House Bill 1085, passed by the Maryland Legislature in the last session, allowed the Ordinance. The bill was requested because adequate coordination time was not being given when support from local public safety organizations such as the Sheriff's Office or Fire and Rescue companies was requested. Commissioners wanted revision of some of the provisions regarding fees and penalties, and further review of the provisions by the Department of Permits and Inspections.