[Saipan Tribune] CNMI Explores Waste-To-Energy Proposal
Project could provide cheap electricity, reduce landfill needs
By Haidee V. Eugenio
SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, April 1, 2013) – A proposed $40- to $50-million waste-to-energy project on Saipan will not only provide cheaper electricity but also help prolong Marpi landfill’s lifespan, Wisconsin-based Alliance Federated Energy and CNMI’s Joeten Enterprises, along with lawmakers, said yesterday.
Under the proposed project, the CNMI government will have to supply trash to Alliance Federated Energy and then buy the “byproduct” energy from the firm at a cost much lower than the almost 40 cents per kwh that regular customers currently pay for their power.
The proposed waste feedstock agreement is for a minimum of 15 years.
“It will be at no cost to the government,” said Norman Tenorio of Joeten Enterprises, a local business partner for Alliance Federated Energy.
Tenorio accompanied AFE president Ben VanKorn during a presentation before lawmakers yesterday morning. They also plan to meet with the governor, the Department of Public Works and the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. to discuss their proposal. AFE and Joeten have been studying the project’s viability on Saipan for quite some time now.
Gov. Eloy S. Inos, in a separate interview, said he would like to get more information from the investor about this alternative energy. He said he would like to find out, for example, whether there’s enough trash to generate energy.
For some 100 tons of trash, AFE will be able to generate up to 5MW or more of energy every day.
Enrique Dela Cruz, manager of the Department of Public Works’ Solid Waste Division, separately said yesterday that there’s estimated over 81 tons of trash generated and brought to their facilities daily but he has to recalculate the volume “to make sure this is really what we’re getting. This is just an estimate.”
Dela Cruz said Marpi landfill’s cell number 1 still has some 40 feet to accommodate additional trash considering there’s daily compacting.
He said if the proposed waste-to-energy project pans out, then the CNMI may have a breakthrough in how it handles its daily trash and it need not build additional cells to take in the trash. They will also cut landfill maintenance costs by having trash converted into energy.
“If that project will help prolong the life of this landfill and at the same time give us a cheaper supply of power, then that should be something to consider,” said Dela Cruz, adding that AFE officials also visited the Solid Waste Division in Lower Base yesterday afternoon.
The Wisconsin-based Alliance Federated Energy is a developer of renewable energy and related infrastructure projects focused on environmentally sustainable technologies, with a specific focus on plasma gasification technology to generate electric and thermal energy and bio-fuels, its company profile says.
Gasification is the process in which biomass such as waste from the Marpi landfill or trash from homes and businesses is converted into a fuel source.
House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (IR-Saipan) said he supports AFE’s proposal.
“Even though renewable energy is an important component of this, addressing our solid waste issues in itself justifies having this type of project,” Deleon Guerrero said.
Vice Speaker Frank Dela Cruz (IR-Saipan), vice chair of the House Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications Committee, said the proposed project “definitely will prolong the longevity of the landfill if not totally eliminate it.”
“With regards to lowering the cost of power, the numbers have yet to be discussed until the company finalizes its assessments. All things considered, I believe that this will be good for the CNMI,” he said.
Rep. Anthony Benavente (IR-Saipan), chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, said AFE’s proposed waste-to-energy project is a “viable” source of alternative energy for the CNMI to lessen its dependence on fossil fuel and lower its utility costs.
The CNMI government is trying to tap alternative or renewable energy such as amassing solar, wind and geothermal power as well as waste-to-energy, liquefied natural gas and safe nuclear energy.
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