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Spotlight - Duncannon Exploring Alternative Energy Plant Powered by Agricultural Wastes

A new alternative energy power plant may be coming to Perry County, bringing a small borough’s residents in this rural county into the energy debate of the 21st Century.

Duncannon Borough has retained LandStudies Inc. and Five Winds International to conduct the $130,000 feasibility study to determine if a waste-to-energy plant could be economically feasible and environmentally beneficial to the residents of the Borough.

The study is being funded by the Chesapeake Bay Commission.

“We’re hoping to find out just how much energy we’d have to make at the plant to ensure this is a worthwhile project,” said Duane Hammaker, Borough Council member and Utilities Committee chairman. Duane has been the borough’s primary force in getting the project off the ground. “But obviously, any time you talk about making energy from alternative and renewable sources, it’s already an idea worth pursuing.”

The feasibility study will explore the following aspects:

· Identify the needs of the stakeholders, namely the borough and its residents;

· Perform a life cycle assessment to understand the environmental benefits and potential drawbacks of building such a plant. A life cycle assessment takes into account all inputs and outputs relating to mass and energy as well as the unintended discharges to air and water. This process will help to alleviate unforeseen consequences.

· Classify and quantify potential credits (carbon, greenhouse gas, and nutrient trading credits) which may provide additional economic return; and

· Preliminary evaluation of technology;

· Determine specific recommendations for funding of Phase III (implementation).

Today most of Duncannon’s 1,800-plus residents work outside the borough, but the town and surrounding townships could reap significant benefit from the construction of a waste-to-energy plant.

Currently, the borough purchases its energy as part of a cohort of other municipalities from around Pennsylvania, and then sells that energy at a discounted rate to its customers in the borough. If a plant is constructed, Duncannon would be making the energy locally, employing local workers and utilizing primarily agricultural waste as the fuel to create the energy.

“Obviously, the goal is to control costs and keep taxes low. If we can do that by making energy from agricultural wastes, we’re going to consider it,” said Dan Rapp, Duncannon Borough Manager.

“This could potentially be a win-win-win-win,” said Michael Fedor, Council member and Facilities Committee chairman. “This study will show us the potential environmental benefits of taking agricultural waste out of the watersheds, while creating jobs and investing in our local economy.”

This fall, the General Assembly will debate an Energy Independence Strategy that could provide funding streams like the energy plant being studied for Duncannon. The plant would also generate alternative energy credits that the borough could also sell to energy companies that need to be a greater percentage of alternative energy to comprise their total energy portfolios in the coming years.

LandStudies plans to complete the feasibility study by the end of December. The Borough Council will then review the study and choose what action to take in 2008.


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