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Feds urged to dump Taylor project

May 30th, 2013

The Taylor Biomass garbage-to-energy project in Montgomery has been touted as innovative and first-of-its-kind, winning supporters and drawing interest from around the globe. After over a decade, the gasification facility is only waiting on the financing to fall into place before construction can commence.

Last week, that financing was attacked by environmentalists who urged the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to reject Taylor’s request for a $100 million federal loan guarantee.

The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) and Partnership for Policy Integrity, an environmental advocacy group headed by Mary Booth, have published a report after reviewing more than 3,000 pages of documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act from the DOE.

“We identified significant discrepancies between how much pollution Taylor told DOE they would emit, and what Taylor’s state air permit allows,” said Mary S. Booth, PhD, Director of PFPI and author of the report. “Taylor repeatedly describes the facility as ‘clean’ in their loan guarantee application, but their emissions under the air permit are no better than a conventional garbage incinerator.”

James Taylor, president of Taylor Biomass, explained Tuesday that the state has different levels of air permits and they have applied for the “smallest you can get in New York.” The permit is a template with the maximum levels allowed and does not state the actual levels the facility is anticipated to generate.

“We are much less than that,” said Taylor.

Taylor stated Booth is misleading in her report, attempting to “present a perception that Taylor is an incineration process.”

“Taylor is not an incineration process. We are gasification,” said Taylor. “We don’t combust, we don’t burn. We are a heat transfer process that uses hot sand. I agree with some of the things she says about incineration, but that’s not us.”

Booth is convinced however, that the gasification process is not as great as has been promised.

“We strongly support the DOE renewable energy initiatives, including loan guarantees, but the Taylor plant has the pollution profile of a highly polluting incinerator, is based on unproven technology, and comes with a sub-par ‘ccc’ credit rating,” said Booth. “Taxpayers should not be on the hook for this facility.”

Taylor stated that it was true the project had a poor credit rating at the start of the project, however various elements had not yet come together including their power purchase agreements and waste agreements. They have also obtained local, state and federal permitting since that time.

According to Taylor, a new and much improved credit rating will be issued as soon as matters are finalized with the DOE. He noted that the DOE will not give a loan guarantee if the project does not have a good score. At present, Taylor’s application is in the “due diligence” phase and he anticipates completion sometime in the third quarter of 2013, with construction starting up again shortly thereafter.

Construction is anticipated to last 18-20 months, with six months of start up and commissioning to get to full-time operations.

By RACHEL COLEMAN
rcoleman@tcnewspapers.com

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