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Charlotte Area News

Strong Support For Trash-To-Electricity Plan At City Council

http://66.225.205.104/JR20101214a.mp3

A plan to turn Charlotte's household garbage into electricity won strong support from the city council last night. The plan known as ReVenture Park is still evolving, and that left a few council members uneasy about casting a vote that would effectively be their best opportunity to block the project. "I was prepared, I guess to hold my nose and vote for this," said Councilwoman Patsy Kinsey during council discussion. "But I don't think I'm there yet, because I do fear that a vote tonight takes it out of our hands." Kinsey and Councilman Michael Barnes were the only two votes against a resolution to put ReVenture on the city's list of options for waste disposal. Right now only landfills are on that list. Though many of the details regarding air pollution, odor and traffic at ReVenture have yet to be finalized, nine other members of the city council voted to let the project move forward with Mecklenburg County's waste management department at the helm. "I just think there's no way we're gonna have all our questions answered," said Councilman Jason Burgess. "We have a deadline and we're gonna have to rely on the county at the end of the day to make these decisions. We have a great opportunity to be a part of this and I would hate for us to be what comes in the way, just for a control issue." Charlotte's endorsement of the ReVenture option was crucial because the city's garbage will be the main source of fuel for the power plant, if it's approved. The project is now in Mecklenburg County's court, since the county has responsibility for managing waste in the region. ReVenture's developers plan to immediately begin applying for the waste management and air quality permits the project requires. And negotiations will now begin in earnest for a 20-year contract to purchase all of Mecklenburg County's household garbage as fuel for the ReVenture power plant. Mecklenburg County solid waste director Bruce Gledhill hopes to bring that contract to the Board of County Commissioners for approval by April. "If everything works out with this project contractually and environmentally, we do have a preference for doing something other than landfilling our waste," says Gledhill. Gledhill is under some pressure because the county's contract for sending trash to the landfill expires in 18 months. By this coming spring, Gledhill says he either needs to pull the trigger on a deal with ReVenture or start making plans for somewhere else to send the county's hundreds of millions several-million tons of trash.