Wayne could become home to a new power plant run by renewable energy after a presentation was made during Tuesday’s Wayne City Council meeting.
Green Stars Gasifiers CEO Tony Dermir presented the council with information about his company, which is relocating from Bowling Green, Ky., to South Sioux City. The company recently entered into a public/private partnership with the city of South Sioux City and will be building a power plant in that city, along with moving its offices, manufacturing and research facilities to Nebraska.
Dermir said South Sioux City and Wayne have something in common as far as being stuck with the high costs of doing business with Nebraska Public Power District when it comes to power generation, and his company has designed a model that uses renewable resources to help generate power for communities.
“We realized that smaller municipalities like Wayne seem to be stuck with NPPD when it comes to power generation, so we’ve designed a custom model and are able to provide renewable energy that brings cities into the future,” he said.
The company uses a variety of renewable resources, including wind, hydro, solar, wood waste and even municipal solid waste and shredded tires. In South Sioux City, they are building a gasifier that runs on wood waste and provides the heat needed to break down the molecular structure of the wood to create a gas that creates clean electricity with no emission.
Dermir told the council that their interest in Wayne is not only from a power standpoint, but an economic development standpoint as well. Building a 3-megawatt power plant in smaller municipalities like Wayne would create a number of immediate jobs that would benefit the community. He said that a plant like one he envisions for Wayne would add 15 full-time employees, while the one in South Sioux City is expected to provide 50 direct jobs and more than 400 indirect jobs to the community.
The power plant would allow the city to collect property taxes, and South Sioux City officials said there are CDBG grants and USDA loan and grant programs that are available through the Farm Bill that would help offset infrastructure costs.
“Our model works well with small municipalities . . . but it doesn’t work in big cities because it’s very politically driven by billion-dollar companies that are protecting their assets,” he said. “We’re a small company that can have a huge impact on municipalities. If NPPD wants to change their prices or make it more difficult, Wayne can do nothing except try to fight it or go on the open market and hope for the best.”
Dermir said a power plant such as the one he sees for Wayne would require about 5-7 acres of land. He estimated the cost to build a plant at about $17 million, which would include a fuel storage area and required infrastructure.
Councilman Matt Eischeid asked about the amount of waste that would be put out by a power plant running on renewable energy.
“We would use about 97 percent of everything,” Dermir said, adding that about 3 percent of the resources would wind up in the city’s landfill.
Dermir said the company is also having conversations with seven other Nebraska communities, including Wisner. He told the council that he would like to keep a dialogue going with Wayne officials in the hopes of someday bringing a facility to town.
“I think we’re all interested in continuing discussion on this and getting more information to educate ourselves,” Mayor Ken Chamberlain said, encouraging Dermir to contact city administrator Lowell Johnson to pass information along to city officials.
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