On the surface, the idea of a co-regeneration power plant in Tusayan appears to be a pretty good idea. The environmentally-safe facility could solve waste problems not only for the gateway community, but also Kaibab National Forest and perhaps Grand Canyon National Park.
Al Dozier, at the podium, talks to community members about the benefits of a co-regeneration power plant. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/GCN)
About 20 community members gathered Thursday morning for a discussion of the possibilities with company representatives that create such facilities. There was enough interest for talks to continue in the future with a feasibility study, if it can be financed.
"Our technology is green, there’s less pollution from it than a natural gas system," said Al Dozier, managing director of Global Concepts. "We use gasification, an environmentally-friendly technology."
In short, forest waste from routine thinning projects and solid waste from Tusayan could be disposed of at the co-regeneration plant. It’s unclear if Grand Canyon National Park would be interested, but there are concerns over a landfill inside the park. The waste would go through a process to convert it into power.
"We turn waste products into electricity, potable water and alternative fuels," Dozier said. "We have a network of companies around the world. We solve waste disposal problems in an economic and financially viable way."
Waste brought into the plant would first be reduced in size and moisture content. The gasification process would follow with power generation being the result. Waste heat from the engines can even be recovered to generate power.
Dozier said their systems use only proven technology, can produce all the energy it needs to operate and could create 12 to 15 local jobs with a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week operation. Even the little waste material that is created through ash could be made into high-grade bricks.
The idea of a co-regeneration plant first surfaced among the public a few weeks ago when Rick Stahn of the Forest Service said the facility could be constructed near an Arizona Public Service substation and a proposed school site.
"If this goes forward, we end up becoming part of the community," said Carl King, principal and managing director of LC2 Consulting Engineers. "And we need to understand the community."
Various questions came up concerning capabilities of the plant and if there would be enough waste to support it.
A preliminary proposal by King showed an enclosed building of 190 feet by 140 feet. Noise generated by the engines could be minimal and a flare would be included on the building, a requirement in case of engine or dryer failure. If it could be sustained, the plant could run continuously.
King said all wood from the Forest Service would come into the plant in chip form. Forest waste would also include things like bark, pine needles and leaves. Anything carbon-based could be fed into the system, including all plastics, glass and tires. The tires, however, would need to be quartered or shredded.
At the same time, King said the plant would not want to intentionally displace any local recycling programs.
According to the preliminary numbers, Dozier said the community should generate 24 or 25 tons of waste per day, including the forest but not the park. Those numbers didn’t seem to match up with others provided by a local residents. For example, two years ago, Tusayan generated 6.6 tons per day. With the National Park Service added in, the daily amount could increase to 12 tons per day. Those numbers do not include Forest Service waste.
Dozier said the generation of noise could be minimal if the equipment is enclosed with housing.
Several questions came up over who would actually own the facility. Dozier said a build, own and operate (BOO) arrangement with Global Concepts could be an option, as well as ownership by a utility company or an organization. John Rueter suggested the formation of a Community Facilities District.
Other questions involved financing. Dozier went over various numbers involving plants that appeared to be too large for Tusayan. After hearing discussion, he said a $3 million plant could be an option with capital costs possibly covered by available grants.
"Covering capital costs would be a key," Rueter said. "Then have this become a pilot program for small gateway communities to forests and parks all over the country."
As for a timeline, a facility could be built within a year if there were no roadblocks. But the next step appears to be financing a feasibility study.