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U.S. Firm Angers Dubliners With Plan For Waste-to-Energy Generator

U.S. Firm Angers Dubliners With Plan For Waste-to-Energy Generator

Covanta Holding Corp. will soon begin construction on a new waste-to-energy generator in Dublin, Ireland and its surrounding area that is expected to operate at 58 megawatts and provide what the company says will be clean, renewable energy for 80,000 homes.

In a statement issued Sept. 20, Covanta, based in Morristown, N.J., said it had reached agreement with the city council of Ireland’s capital to build, own and operate the plant. It said construction is expected to begin immediately, and the facility should be on-line in late 2017.

The plant will be designed to use post-recycled waste from nearby landfills, making it self-sufficient in managing waste in accordance with local, national and European Union waste policies. It also will cut Ireland’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.

Related: Waste to Watts: How Today's Garbage Can Be Tomorrow's Electricity

The new facility will cost 500 million euros: 175 million euros will be provided by Covanta and 375 million euros borrowed from an unnamed third party, according to the statement.

Dublin will share any gains or losses in revenues generated by the facility during its first 15 years of operation. Dublin will also share in energy revenues generated by the project for the 45-year life of the contract. Covanta will operate the project during that period, then cede ownership to Dublin.

“We are extremely pleased to be partnering with the Dublin regional authorities to commence construction of this very important project, and I’m confident that this public-private partnership will deliver long-lasting value for our client communities, as well as for our shareholders,” Covanta CEO and President Anthony J. Orlando said in the statement.

Some Irish are not as pleased. The decision to allow construction of the plant was made by Dublin City Manager Owen Keegan over strong opposition from members of the city council, who were not, by law, permitted to take a role in the decision.

Related: Biomass: Just Because it's Green Doesn't Mean it's Clean

One council member, Dermot Lacey, accused some Dublin political leaders and the Irish Department of the Environment of “conspiring on this for 15 years. … They will try to get it developed as quickly as they can to try and prevent any political intervention,” he told the Irish Independent newspaper.

Lacey said the city council has voted against the project at least 30 times because “it’s too big, it’s in the wrong place, it’s going to attract too much traffic. I’ve no idea what the traffic plan is for the area. I’ve no idea of the destruction to the [local] nature park, no idea of how it’s going to interact with the local community.”

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan called the decision a “disgrace” because “[t]his sets us on a course for 50 years, which is incredibly expensive and which we don’t need.”

By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com

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