Louisville to supply wood waste to Recast Energy

By City of Louisville, Ky. | February 20, 2013

When storms, disease or old age down trees and limbs in city parks, the wood waste will now be sold and turned into energy that helps power Louisville companies and organizations—instead of going to the landfill.

Under a partnership between Louisville Metro Parks and Recast Energy Louisville LLC, the tons of wood waste generated in city parks each year will be sold to Recast then converted to thermal energy.

“This is a great public/private partnership and a smart environmental move that pays off for our community in three different ways,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “It saves taxpayer dollars in dealing with the huge amount of wood we accumulate each year; it keeps that wood out of the landfill; and it provides cleaner, alternative energy for local companies.”

The relationship with Recast will save Metro Parks an estimated $20,000-$25,000 annually in disposal and wood processing costs, related to the approximately 600-1,000 tons of logs accumulated each year.

While Parks will continue to grind down smaller pieces of wood waste for mulch, playground surface areas and other uses in parks—it will no longer need to rent the equipment necessary to handle logs larger than 18-inches which will be processed by Recast. In addition, Recast will pay Parks for the waste wood it supplies, generating an estimated $7,000-$12,000 in revenue.

Eventually, other city departments may also take advantage of the contract and provide wood waste to Recast.

Fischer said the wood waste project is just one of many initiatives underway or planned to make Louisville greener and more environmentally friendly. City government’s first comprehensive environmental plan—Sustain Louisville—is now in the public comment period with a public forum set for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 20, at Jefferson Community & Technical College, 110 W. Chestnut St.

“Recast Energy is happy to have this ongoing partnership with Metro Government to receive the city’s wood waste biomass material,” said Matthew Markee, president and COO. “This represents a win-win-win for Louisville, Recast Energy, and the environment by creating a beneficial use for this clean material. We would like to thank the various groups involved for their assistance in coordinating the necessary operations. At every step, city government was extremely supportive of a better solution.”

“We’re very pleased that this relationship offers not only a sustainable solution for the large amount of wood waste that accumulates in the parks each year, but also a significant cost-savings to our forestry and landscape division,” said Metro Parks assistant director Marty Storch.

The need for sustainable solutions to wood waste will grow as the community braces for an increase in the number of trees affected by the emerald ash borer. Parks officials expect that damage from the insect could boost the amount of waste wood to three times the current levels.

The Louisville Tree Advisory Commission which Fischer created last year has a goal of expanding the city’s tree canopy and replacing as many trees as possible that are lost to age, disease or severe weather.