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Published: Thursday, 5/1/2008

Trash-to-power plant proposed in Erie Twp.


Erie Township officials hope to replace the city's landfill with a "plasma arc gasified" power plant in the next two years.

SunCrest Energy LLC, a Michigan company, signed a host-community agreement with the township to operate the proposed 100-megawatt plant. The $500 million facility would create 140 jobs.

But first it needs customers. Company spokesmen said the firm has proposed selling its power to local utilities such as Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, and others. So far, though, no agreements have been made.

"We need someone to purchase our power, either a municipality, a school system, or a utility," said Vena McCracken, a SunCrest spokesman.

SunCrest has approached large companies such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. It seeks customers willing to make a 20-year commitment, officials said.

Although Canadian investors are in place, plant construction won't begin until buyers sign up, SunCrest said. It would not identify the investors.

Township officials were unavailable for comment.

The project, which would take two years to build, would divert trash from area landfills and convert it into renewable fuels and other bio-products. Using eight plasma torches inside a melting cupola, the plant would heat trash at 30,000 degrees, producing gas to spin turbines to create electricity, the company explained.

It also would create insulation and concrete bio-products, as well as grow algae to be used for biofuel and animal feed production, officials said.

The SunCrest spokesmen said the plant would be the largest operation of its kind in the United States.

At peak capacity, the plant would consume nearly 2,800 tons of solid waste a day. It also would create little of its own waste, and would install carbon filters to capture any emissions, company officials said.

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