Alabama Company Planning Wood Biomass Plants in Carnesville, Colbert

An Alabama company is planning to build two wood biomass plants in Northeast Georgia and one of them will be in Franklin County.

GreenFuels Holding Company LLC of Birmingham has already submitted applications for two pollution permits from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s Air Quality Branch for a 79 megawatt plant on Highway 198 near Carnesville and a 58-megawatt plant near Colbert in Madison County.

According to a recent report in the Athens Banner Herald, the company plans to build the Franklin County plant on the same property where a chicken litter biomass plant had been planned several years ago.

Eric Cornwell with the EPD told the Athens Banner Herald that State officials have not begun to evaluate the Company’s plans until a 30-day period has passed.  After that, the public will also be able to comment on the Company’s plans.

Cornwell said so far, the EPD has permitted eight or nine such plants in Georgia over the past several years, but only two have actually been built and became operational – one near Barnesville and one in the northwest corner of the state.

The Carnesville plant is referred to in the EPD application as the “Franklin Renewable Energy Facility” and will burn over 607-thousand tons of woody biomass a year – primarily clean construction and demolition material.

If their permits go through, the company will convert the wood waste to energy to sell to Georgia Power and Duke Energy and reportedly already has contracts negotiated with the two energy suppliers, according to Moodys. com.–PR_328989

Franklin County Commission Chair Thomas Bridges sees the plant as an economic boost to the County.

Absolutely. It will employ about 28 people,” Bridges said Monday. “It will be running 24×7 to produce power for Georgia Power. Those who harvest timber will have a place to take that debris and it will be turned into power.”

However, environmentalists say the type of wood burning biomass plant GreenFuels is planning to build in Franklin and Madison Counties could emit toxic gasses into the air and pollute the waterways if not managed correctly.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists Web site, if not managed carefully, biomass for energy can be harvested at unsustainable rates, damage ecosystems, produce harmful air pollution, consume large amounts of water, and produce net greenhouse emissions.

Nitrogen oxides from biomass are lower than those from coal but higher than natural gas. NOx emissions causes ground-level ozone, or smog, which can burn lung tissue and can make people more susceptible to asthma, bronchitis, and other chronic respiratory diseases. Like SO2, NOx also contributes to acid rain and the formations of harmful particulate matter. Biomass power plants also emit high levels of particulates (soot and ash) and carbon monoxide. Readily available technologies, such as fluidized bed or gasification systems, and electrostatic precipitators, can help reduce NOx, CO, and particulate emissions associated with biomass power.”

But Bridges says the County is confident this plant will be safe.

We actually quizzed them considerably on that,” Bridges noted. “I’m counting on the EPD to make sure this operation will be beneficial to Franklin County. Therefore, it won’t cause any problems for any citizens.”

WLHR News is attempting to contact GreenFuels for a comment on their plans.

According to Bridges, efforts to bring GreenFuels to Franklin County has been ongoing for “quite sometime” in conjunction with the Franklin County Industrial Building Authority.  Bridges denies there has been any attempt to hide the project from the public.

In 2006, Earth Resources Inc. announced plans to build a chicken-litter-to-electricity plant at that same location on SR198 to provide electricity to Georgia Power, but that plant was never built.

GreenFuels reportedly plans to have the Franklin County plant operational in the spring of 2016.