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September 18, 2012

Waste-to-energy plant proposed at landfill

Integrated Infrastructure Inc. proposes a $152-million plant that would convert brush and other organic waste to fuel at the Fauquier County landfill.
The plant would be similar to this one in Australia. Photo/I3
Terry Nyhous
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A former county supervisor wants to convert trash to biodiesel fuel at Fauquier’s landfill.

Warrenton resident Terry Nyhous and his business partners recently submitted a public-private partnership proposal to the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors for construction of a waste-to-energy plant.

The 30,000-square-foot plant would cost an estimated $152 million to design, build and equip, “based on a lot of gross assumptions,” said Mr. Nyhous, who served as the Center District supervisor from 2008 through 2011.

Also a former Warrenton Town Council member, he serves as the CEO of Integrated Infrastructure Inc. (I3), with offices at Vint Hill.

I3 and its partner, National Energy Systems, propose to build and operate the plant on five to seven acres at the Corral Farm landfill. The companies want Fauquier to:

• Lease it a plant site.

• Share an unspecified “portion of the tipping fees collected from waste haulers.”

• Make a long-term commitment to divert solid waste to the plant.

“No public funds will be required for the project,” the companies say in the proposal.

“We will integrate ourselves into the existing operation” at the landfill, Mr. Nyhous said. “We will deal with the organic material,” including brush and other waste.

Fauquier officials have begun reviewing the proposal to ensure that it complies with the Public-Private Education Facilities & Infrastructure Act of 2002, County Administrator Paul McCulla said.

If the proposal complies with the act, the board of supervisors probably would conduct a work session with Mr. Nyhous and his group this fall, Mr. McCulla added.

If the supervisors want to proceed, the county would open the project to competitive bidding, as the law requires, he explained.

“The core of the project is a plant which will use a patented Gas Phase Reduction (GPR) process to convert the carbon-based organic material in municipal solid waste (MSW) and biosolids into hydrogen-enriched methane gas,” I3’s proposal says. “The gas will then be converted into a biofuel, such as commercial-grade diesel. The project team may also choose to generate electricity, combined heat and power (CHP) or other marketable products.”

I3 says the county would benefit from:

• Diversion of waste from the landfill.

• Creation of private sector jobs, with an annual payroll of $2.1 million. The plant would require more than 30 “skilled technicians.”

• Reduction of methane gas and liquid “leachate” from the landfill.

• Taxes and economic development activity.

It would cost an estimated $2.6 million a year to operate the plant.

The company would generate revenue from the sale of fuel and possibly electricity.

“The field is wide open (for growth), if you can get a plant built,” Mr. Nyhous said.

The GPR process has been in use about 20 years, primarily in other countries.

If his company can get county approval, it would seek venture capital to construct the plant, added Mr. Nyhous, a former Air Force officer with 20 years of experience in aerospace and defense technology. He also worked as an investment banking consultant for Price Waterhouse LLP.

If everything fell into place, it would take two to three years for construction of the plant and the start of operations, Mr. Nyhous said.

“We are delighted to make this proposal to Fauquier County, where conservation and preservation have long been priorities,” said I3 Chairman Perry Casto. “We are going to stop landfilling trash and instead turn it into renewable energy.”

Longtime friends, Mr. Casto and Mr. Nyhous attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point together.

Several years ago, Warrenton Mayor George Fitch led an effort to build a plant that would burn waste to generate electricity at the landfill.

The supervisors deemed that proposal financially impractical.
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