LANCASTER – The Lancaster City Council Tuesday approved an agreement with Organic Energy Corporation to develop a facility in Lancaster that would convert city garbage into various forms of renewable energy.
The proposed material recovery and conversion facility (MFR) would use state-of-the-art technologies to convert unrecyclable solid waste into useful products, such as green fuels and renewable energy, and would recover up to 85% of recycled materials from waste streams, which would be approximately 49% more efficient than what currently exists in Lancaster, according to city documents.
“This is one of the most innovative green energy facilities of its kind…” said Deputy City Manager Jason Caudle. “It’s not just about going green, it’s not just about being net zero, it’s about creating job opportunities through new innovative ways.”
City officials say the new facility would create approximately 200 permanent green collar jobs and 100 construction related jobs for the community.
Per the terms of the partnership agreement between Organic Energy Corporation (DBA Ecolution) and the City of Lancaster:
- The city will work with Ecolution to identify a 40-acre site for the facility, and would assist the company throughout the development approval process.
- Ecolution will be responsible for building and operating the plant within a 24-month period.
- The city would commit to directing its local waste to Ecolution’s proposed facility for 20 years with an opportunity to change or renegotiate after 10 years.
- The city will contact regional waste haulers and encourage them to divert their waste to Ecolution’s facility.
- The city will receive a host fee of $5 per ton or 10% of the tipping fee at the facility, whichever is greater.
- Ecolution’s headquarters and point of sales will be in Lancaster.
Before the city council approved the agreement Tuesday, Ecolution president Tim Fuller gave a detailed presentation on how the proposed facility would work.
Fuller said Ecolution uses a proprietary GreenStream waste processing method which consists of grinders, belts and other machinery to mechanically sort and separate waste into 20 different materials of “highly dependable quality, quantity and value.” He said the method would eliminate the current three-bin waste collection process.
“The GreenStream does not require you to decide which bin each piece of garbage belongs in, you dispose of everything in one bin,” Fuller said.
He said GreenStream would work 20 hours per day, six days a week, with 48 hours each week devoted to cleaning the system.
Fuller said waste processing would be done in a completely enclosed facility within the city limits of Lancaster. He said from the outside of the facility there would be no smell and no indication that up to 4,000 tons of waste per day was being processed inside the facility.
Not all residents were fans of the Ecolution agreement.
Lancaster resident Scott Pelka expressed concerns about where the money would come from to acquire the 40 acres of land promised by the city to Ecolution in the agreement. He also asked how toxic chemicals would be managed, worried that the city was financing a start-up company, and wanted to know all the partners invested in the Ecolution company.
“This whole thing kinda stinks, and I don’t mean from trash either,” Pelka said.
Lancaster city council candidate Michael Rives said he opposed the project, and wanted the council to hold a public hearing before approving the agreement.
“This ought to be postponed for one council meeting to have a public hearing,” said Rives. “As you recall Palmdale, our friends to the south, when they were considering a power plant they had public hearings.”
And Lancaster resident, Maureen Feller, was concerned about Ecolution’s time in business and the fact that the city was not putting the project out to bid.
“Once again the tax payers of Lancaster are giving public resources to start somebody’s business,” Feller said. “Not only are we paying to set up a company for somebody, but we also are going to watch that company make a profit on our waste.”
“Because of the job creation and the economic development that’s going to take place as a result of this project, this is the perfect project for this area,” Poston said.
In the end council members voted 4-0, with Mayor R. Rex Parris absent, to approve the agreement for the city to partner with Ecolution (read it here) to develop a materials recovery and conversion facility in Lancaster and for a separate Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) (read it here) to allow the city to work with Ecolution to locate a site that could accommodate its facility and assist Ecolution through the development approval process.
“This will be one of the largest resources in the history of the Antelope Valley,” said councilmember Marvin Crist.