Greenpoint awaits city approval for Connecticut AD project

By Katie Fletcher | October 01, 2014

Greenpoint Energy Partners LLC is a developer and financier of renewable energy facilities designed to capture methane from organic municipal solid waste. The company has been developing one of these anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities over the past two to three years near the site of the wastewater treatment plant and transfer facility in Ansonia, Connecticut. The lengthy planning is linked to the fact that it has undergone a few iterations. “The project’s been resized, which is why it’s taken this long,” said Chris Timbrell, partner with the company.

The $20 million project is now planned to take in 45,000 tons of food waste annually, while turning it into 1 MW of electricity mainly for the city of Ansonia’s use. The company is also looking at using the digestate that comes out of the process as compost or drying it for fertilizer.

The food waste will be sourced from large food generators within a 20-mile radius of the proposed facility. Timbrell mentioned Connecticut legislation supports the company’s effort. Connecticut was the first state to ban commercial food waste from landfills, and has a law requiring generators of two or more tons of food waste per week to recycle the materials rather than sending them to a landfill if located within 20 miles of a suitable recycling facility, which Greenpoint’s facility would be if all goes as planned. “We’re working with the waste haulers in and around Ansonia for them to direct their food waste to us,” Timbrell said. “A lot of the food waste is already being sorted, so it shouldn’t be too big of a deal for the haulers to redirect their food waste from the landfill in the county to our facility.”

GEP is currently in the process of getting all the state and local permits filed with the relevant state authorities. Some of the necessary permits have been secured from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, but others still need to be completed with the DEEP and additional authorities. According to Timbrell, some have already been filed, but there are still a few permits that need to be filed and the company is in the midst of that process now.

Other than securing all the required permits, the proposed facility still must be formally approved by the city. A public forum was held last month where Timbrell explained the proposed facility’s design and layout, safety features and potential community benefits, as well as answering residents and public officials’ questions who were in attendance. A meeting, like this one, was held over a year ago, but Timbrell said another was needed because of a change in administration in the town. “The city needs to formally decide if they would like to do the deal,” Timbrell said.

Before the go-ahead is given, some city officials will be heading to Orlando, Florida, in the next few weeks to see a waste-to-energy facility of similar design that is in production. Timbrell has hopes that this trip will help gain the city’s consent.

The pending approval is associated with some hesitation from the citizens in the area, which was expressed at the meeting in September. According to Timbrell, some of the main concerns people had about the facility were truck traffic, odors and declined aesthetics to the landscape. “We’ve been working to make sure there are no unpleasant odors coming from the trucks and trying to minimize any general disruption to quality of life issues,” Timbrell said.  

The odor concern Timbrell hopes to diminish with the visit to Orlando. The issue aesthetically is connected with the height of the tanks. “The highest tank is 60 feet high, so there is some hesitation about what the visuals of that will be to have a 60-foot tank on the horizon,” Timbrell said.

Concerns can arise over any large project, but Timbrell hopes the potential benefits the facility can have on the community, and the visit to the Florida AD facility will help alleviate the apprehension.

Timbrell said GEP is almost ready to move forward as far as breaking ground after securing the final permits and a nod from the city. He believes construction will take six to nine months, and that there is the possibility the facility could be in production next year if all goes as planned. Less methane leaked into the atmosphere, electricity savings and economic development are a few benefits Timbrell listed as positively impacting the Ansonia community. “This project if it is built is a net positive to the environment, it’s a good project,” Timbrell said.