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E-M:/ Manure Power coming to Muskegon

The article below is from last Sunday's Muskegon Chronicle. Can anyone with knowledge of CAFO issues shed some light on this? I'm all for putting the millions of gallons of CAFO waste to better use than polluting our water & air, but I guess my immediate concern would be encouraging the "build it and they will come" syndrome. I apologize for posting the entire article here, I couldn't find a link to it anywhere. Thanks.
Diana Jancek
Muskegon Chronicle
February 29, 2004
Local leaders pushing for manure power at county site
By Dave Alexander
Chronicle Business Editor
In three short months, the head of Muskegon's new alternative energy center has generated plenty of interest in developing a $1.3 million manure-to-electricity demonstration plant.
    Imad Mahawili-executive director of Grand Valley State University's Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center-along with state and federal legislators are pushing for a plant that would convert pig or cow manure into methane that would be used to generate electricity.
    The Muskego County Wastewater Management System is the preferred location for the "bio-digester" and microturbine electric combination, Mahawili said. Such a plant could help solve large farm operations problems with disposal of animal wastes.
     As for the manure-to-energy plant, it fits nicely with what Muskegon County and state legislators are trying to accomplish at the Wastewater Management System with a plan for a "large lot" industrial site, county Public Works Director David Kendrick said.
    The county hopes to use some of the thousands of acres at the wastewater site south of Apple Avenue to develop an industrial park that could be home to food processing and other agri-business operations. Kendrick said the electricity generated by a waste-to-energy plant could be used by the wastewater facility and by potential new industries.
    That is the vision that Mahawili has shared with state Rep. David Farhat, R-Norton Shores, who is trying to line up state agricultural officials and Michigan livestock interests behind a low-tax agricultural enterprise zone for the wastewater site. Federal efforts for support also are being worked through U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra's office, Farhat said.
    "The energy plant is perfect for the wastewater site," Farhat said. "We need to convince the Michigan Department of Agriculture that this is a farm issue because the (energy) source is swine manure."
    The wastewater site is a logical location because the farm odors from a bio-digester would not be bothersome to residents and businesses, Farhat and Mahawili said. The wastewater site is isolated and already has a garbage disposal operation on site.
    The wastewater site also is a large electrical user and is located near large cow and pig farms in the eastern end of Muskegon County. West Michigan farmers are willing to transport manure to a central location, Mahawili said.
    The plant would take a high-tech digestive system using biological agents to break down the manure, producing methane gases. The remaining material would be a sterile compost that could be sold as an agricultural product, Mahawili said.
    The GVSU energy center is working with Ennis Associates LLC of Muskegon, a local chemical engineering consulting group. Ennis is a two-year-old technical management consulting firm formed by Tom McEnhill and Mike Krivitsky, who combine 70 years experience in the chemical industry in Michigan.
    Farmers in Muskegon and Zeeland areas are also helping GVSU in planning the bio-mass plant, Mahawili said.
    A manure-to-energy plant would need from three to five workers to keep a 24-hour-a-day operation going, Mahawili said. A plant sized for a large-farm operation could be duplicated across the state and nation, he said.
    "I  believe in this...I want to build it and demonstrate it can work," Mahawili said. "You can't transfer this technology or jobs to China. The farms are here."
    The demonstration plant would be based on either a 500-cow or 5,000-pig supply of manure, Mahawili estimates. Some 61,000 pounds of pig manure could produce 75 kilowatts of electricity per hour and 3,356 pounds of compost. Some 55,000 pounds of cow manure could produce 50 kilowatts of electricity per hour and 2,828 pounds of compost.