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You are here: > News > November 20, 2010

Top 100
Trash-to-Gas Co. a Go After EPA Vetoes Ecology

Beginning in a little more than a week, Green Power Inc. will be commencing the building of municipal-solid-waste-to-fuel plants for clients around the world, with $2 billion in contracts; now that an EPA ruling has exonerated GPI from an unnecessary shut-down order by the Washington Ecology Department last year.

by Sterling D. Allan
Pure Energy Systems News
Copyright © 2010

This is a photo I took in May 2008 when I visited the plant just after it was first operational.
Note: I have a relationship with GPI, so this report is not truly independent.

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In a little more than a week from now, on November 29, Green Power Inc. (GPI) of Pasco, Washington, who has a technology to turn municipal solid waste (MSW) into synthetic liquid fuel and electricity, plans to begin the manufacturing of plants in fulfillment of orders from around the world.  The photo on the right shows their 100 ton/day pilot plant.

This fuel would be of higher quality and cheaper than fuel derived from crude oil -- and it comes from local feedstock, while turning waste into energy.  Green Power claims it manufactures equipment that can convert 100 tons of garbage into 12,000 gallons of diesel fuel at 78 cents a gallon.  So not only would the fuel be cheaper, but it doesn't come from countries who aren't always so friendly, mitigating these unsavory international dependencies.  It addresses the pollution problem, and the energy problem, and the political tension problem.  "We would not need to import any foreign oil if we could turn our municipal waste stream into fuel," GPI's CEO, Michael Spitzauer has told me.

I classify waste-to-energy as a form of "free energy" because as long as there are humans on this planet there will be waste, and often in the case of waste there is actually a tipping fee for the feedstock, providing revenue on that end as well.  And if we ever get to the point of using all our waste as feedstock for such processes, we will still have plenty of landfills to clean up, not to mention the huge gyres of plastic waste the size of Texas in the oceans.

Spitzauer, says that GPI has over $2 billion dollars in signed contracts for GPI plants, including in Vietnam, Spain, France, Yugoslavia, and a very large installation in South America to be launched in April.  He said GPI has money in the bank from the S. American contract, for example, ready to finance immediate construction.  The civil work has been done locally.  Ground has been graded, concrete poured, foundations laid.

On September 17, a Bosnian newspaper reported (original url) that the director of the Slovenian company 'Green power', Zoran Petrovic, told reporters that the company will employ 50 workers (in its construction), and that the plant should become operational in the second half of next year.

In August of 2009, GPI was shut down by Washington state's Ecology Department who said GPI had "not provided adequate compliance with the environmental air quality regulations."  This was cleared on September 8, 2010 by an EPA ruling that support's GPI's claim and reverses Washington state's Ecology Department's claim that placed the GPI process in the class of incinerators, which it is not.  According to the EPA ruling:

"Green Power describes its process as a proprietary catalytic pressure-less depolymerization process (CDP) where municipal solid waste or a wide variety of organic wastes are 'cracked' at the molecular level and the long-chain polymers (plastic, organic material such as wood, etc.) are chemically altered to become short-chain hydrocarbons with no combustion.  Combustion requires oxygen or a similar compound, but according to Green Power the CDP occurs in an anaerobic environment, exposed only to inert gases like nitrogen."

As I wrote in September of 2009: "From what I can gather, it is a situation of a company that is easily in compliance with the spirit of the law, but which has not satisfied the minutia of the bureaucratic hoop-jumping required." Getting the Ecology Department's official reversal of their shut-down order is expected to materialize next week.

Also next week, GPI will be advertising its job openings in the local newspapers.  By the end of the first quarter of 2011, GPI expects to be employing nearly 700 people to be involved in building the plants to be shipped to their plant customers around the world.  For those of you willing to consider relocating, this might be an opportunity for you to get work doing something in renewable energy.  You can go to their website to see a list of openings and apply.

Spitzauer says he hasn't been entertaining U.S. contracts in the last year or so, though there have been plenty of inquiries and people standing in line.  He said this hiatus is because of the hamstringing that the Ecology department has been imposing.  However, he still retains a patriotism toward the country in general, wanting the plants to be stamped: "Made in the U.S.A."

He said he has already spent more than $150 million dollars on this project, none of which has come from the government.  Most of that was spent building the pilot plant in Pasco, which the Ecology department shut down, and which the EPA has now overturned.  "It's a major victory," said Spitzauer, who had to plow a lot of money into lawyers to defend their position.

This past year has been a challenging one for GPI.  The actions of the Ecology department have made it difficult for GPI to make its financial obligations.  (Ref.)  A news report is slated to come out from the local Tri-City News Tribune berating Spitzauer and GPI for some of these and other shortcomings.  Spitzauer told me that "all money being owed will be settled by the end of the year."  On Monday he is scheduled to sign a contract for a new lease with the Port of Pasco.  GPI already paid all of the back payments owed for their facility.

Part of the delay from the time of the EPA ruling has been getting pollution insurance, as part of the Port contract.

Most people would have folded under the pressure of all the setbacks Spitzauer has encountered (many of them self-imposed due to his laid-back nature in a punctual world).  And some of these stresses are likely involved in the serious health issues Spitzauer has faced and still struggles with.  But he is not giving up.

Spitzauer has arranged operations at GPI so that he is not inexpendable.  

"I love this project.  We have put our life into this."

# # #




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Page composed by Sterling D. Allan Nov. 20, 2009
Last updated November 29, 2012




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