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Clean, green way to generate electricity approved in San Diego County


Last updated 5/10/2007 at Noon

It has the feel of the final scene in the movie “Back to the Future,” during which Doc Brown feeds banana peels and other garbage into the Mr. Fusion appliance on top of the DeLorean to fuel it. But what is happening in Vista right now is not in any futuristic movie, it is the next wave of good, clean, green ways to generate electricity without substantial adverse effects on the environment.

Not quite Mr. Fusion, but close.

Forward-thinking city officials have approved a special use permit that allows Envirepel Energy, Inc. to move forward with the balance of the permits required to finish construction of its renewable bioenergy facility and operate it for an initial 18 months.

The facility will use a process called “gasification combustion,” which cleanly burns green waste and wood, to produce electricity. Not to be confused with “incineration,” during which refuse is burned in lieu of burial in a landfill, gasification will not degrade the quality of the environment, result in long-term or cumulative impacts or have substantial adverse effects on human beings, either directly or indirectly, say experts.

After reviewing plans for the facility, the Vista Planning Commission voted unanimously to give it the go-ahead. “We supported it,” said John Conley, acting community development director for the city. “We think is an exciting, new technology.”

According to Conley, while a trash-to-energy concept is not new the drawback in the past was the air pollution they produced: “If [Envirepel] can reduce their emission, and they can do it in a fairly urban area, then they have proven their technology on a larger scale. Meeting air pollution control is part of the requirement.”

If the company can meet the requirements, he added, it will be given an extension for a total of five years.

“The entire purpose of this system is to produce energy with practically zero emissions,” said Anthony Arand, CEO of Envirepel. “If it doesn’t operate at zero pollution emission, it shuts down.”

Arand said the Vista project, which he named “Kittyhawk” after the first-in-flight Wright Brothers, will be one of the first facilities to use emissions scrubbing equipment for the reduction of Global Warming greenhouse gases.

The project is housed in a building in the Vista Business Park.

Green waste from private waste disposal companies, instead of being dumped in a landfill, will be hauled to the site. Same goes for slash the National Conservation Service gathers after fires in Cleveland National Forest.

The green waste will be ground and fed into a ceramic-lined steel oven. The bricks will heat up and create methane gas, which will then be burned to heat a boiler referred to as “the tea kettle.” The steam from the boiler will drive a turbine to produce about 2,000 kilowatts of electricity per day – enough to power about 2,000 homes for an entire day, Arand said.

Some of the energy produced by Kittyhawk will be used to power the plant; the rest will be sold to San Diego Gas & Electric.

In the very near future, Arand proposes setting up additional bioenergy plants at landfills to handle on-site green waste for conversion into energy and, almost as importantly, keep it out of landfills.

For more information about Envirepel Energy, Inc., contact [email protected] or call Julie Reeder at (760) 310-6229.


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