Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Waste Management and Green Knight intended to sell waste heat offsite - Synagro biosolids plant on WM parcel in Plainfield Township is plan B (owel movement)

In 2001, the Green Knight Energy Center opened on land leased from Waste Management.  This operation burns methane from the landfill and converts the energy into electricity that is sold.  The first plan was for Waste Management to sell electricity to local customers, including on 19 acres that Waste Management donated to create the Slate Belt Industrial Center, which was three contiguous parcels at 850, 852 and 854 Pennsylvania Avenue, but the PUC does not allow you to sell electricity to your neighbor.

To sell energy to the grid, Waste Management had to create the "nonprofit" Green Knight Economic Development Corporation.  What could go wrong with big business creating a nonprofit?  The advertised mission of the Green Knights was to benefit the communities in the Pen Argyl School District - Wind Gap, Pen Argyl, and Plainfield Township.  Today, it is to "provide economic relief for poor and distressed citizens."  To effect equal representation, the Charter dictated that three members residing in each community be board members..  When it was later discovered that current member Peter Albanese was posing as a Wind Gap resident, but was actually residing in Plainfield Township, Green Knight simply modified its charter, instead of finding a third legitimate representative of Wind Gap.  Peter owns a business in Wind Gap - that's how he qualifies as a resident.  You just could not make this shit up.  Every rule can be changed.  This is not the kind of representation the founders of the country envisioned.

Green Knight's mission statement is ironic, given that they partnered with Synagro and Waste Management.  It's easy to see who would reap the economic benefits, and who would be distressed if this project were built.  Here is a link to more on the Green Knight Economic Development Corporation and what they are actually doing for the community.

The Slate Belt Industrial Center turned out to be a political fiasco, which can be verified using the internet.  Eventually, Techo Bloc moved into the property, and remains today.  The three parcels were merged into one.
Waste Management's dream of selling electricity and waste heat to manufacturing neighbors was flawed from inception.  16 years later it turns into nightmare for Wind Gap, Pen Argyl and Plainfield Twp residents - the precise entities Green Knight is supposed to benefit.

An article in Waste 360 dated April 1, 2001 contains some revealing facts about the intentions of Waste Management and its "nonprofit" arm Green Knights:
  • The 19-acre parcel ("industrial park") and Green Knight Energy Center were sold as a "green" project - Green Knight would sell electricity and waste heat to one or more tenants in the industrial center only a "few hundred" feet away.
  • Waste Management considered the selling of electricity to be the primary goal, and selling waste heat from the energy center would be "gravy".
 Click this text to read artice
Click Image to read article

The Land Development Plan for the energy center, also reveals some interesting facts:

Note the location of a "future" heat recovery option, and the fact that the topography of the parcel in SW and ownership by Plainfield Township of the old railroad ROW that separates the landfill's parcels are complications the landfill was well aware of when they allowed the energy center to be built in 2001.  It's important to note that the intent was not to make use of the waste heat in the manner as Synagro proposes (onsite), but rather to ship it to a nearby standalone permitted use.  The proposed project is double dipping by Waste Management.  We'd all like to use our properties 10 times what we do, but it isn't allowed.

Waste Management intended during the design stages of the energy center to recover waste heat from the energy center, for use on lands not owned by Waste Management.  But the desperate effort to find a tenant for the "Industrial Center" resulted in a tenant that could use neither Green Knight's electricity nor it's heat.  Flash forward 16 years, and someone decides to go rogue and see if Plainfield won't notice more than one principal use on the lot, as well as the new use not being permitted.  And they're using the same story they did 16 years ago - this project will be "green".  We'll take a look at the PR lipstick they smeared on this pig in another post.

"Morris came back here with the same lies.  The same silly phrases.
Well, he came to the wrong house.  And he came twice.  I shall see that he doesn't come a third time."

One may also conclude that Waste Management is making full use of its parcel currently - and lacks a hardship that prevents reasonable use of the property.  The only "green" here is an even more generous income for Waste Management and Synagro.  A Use variance can't be financially justified  - the state Supreme Court has ruled on this.

Can Synagro move its operation into the SW district, where it belongs?
As noted in the article, the purpose of the parcels in the CI district in this area are to buffer the landfill from uses along Pennsylvania Avenue.  That's smart land use planning.  If Synagro were to be granted the use variances it needs, that buffer would be destroyed.  Let's take a quick look at if it can move into SW, where multiple uses are permitted and crap bakery is a permitted use by right.

In examining the diagram above, note that Plainfield Township retains ownership of the old railroad bed that was developed as a Recreational Trail, which separates the two Grand Central parcels, located in the SW and C/I zoning districts.  That presents an issue, because Synagro has announced plans to continue operations after the landfill closes, and Plainfield's agreement with Waste Management is that the currently closed Recreational Trail will return to use by the township.  Synagro's 20 ton trucks would be crossing the trail.  There is another more major issue.  There simply is not the room needed for Synagro's plant to be placed in SW in this area due to the mountain of trash, wetlands and the Little Bushkill Creek.

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