Nix on biomass plant in Traverse City, Michigan

Looking farther afield in Cadillac, Michigan than schools and realtors, there are some people who aren’t completely pleased with the local biomass plant:
Complaints are more frequent along Mary Street, a short stretch a few hundred yards south of the plant. Residents there deal with more intense noise and odors.

Craig Walworth’s home is among the closest to the plant. He walked up to his Jeep — a vehicle he cleaned the day before — and dragged his finger through a layer of film on the hood.

“Every morning, you have that to look forward to,” he said. “I clean my screens three times a year during the summer because they clog up.”

Nonetheless he didn’t say it affected his property values. However, that’s not the only issue.

Meanwhile, about an hour north on the edge of Lake Michigan, in Traverse City local activism caused cancellation of a proposed biomass plant:

Local biomass opponents invited a national medical expert to Traverse City to discuss possible health implications associated with wood-burning energy generation.

Dr. William Sammons, a pediatrician and author, added Traverse City to his national speaking tour after Traverse City Light & Power pursued plans to build one or more biomass power plants.

Why does he care?
Government officials created biomass power plant emissions rules about four years ago, Sammons said. Since then, experts published more than 3,000 medical articles about biomass’ harmful impacts, including connections to increased cases of breathing and cardiac problems, as well as cancer.

But changes haven’t been made to how such plants are permitted, he said.

“The regulatory system hasn’t caught up with current medical knowledge. That’s part of the bind we’re in right now,” Sammons said.

He researched biomass power production during the last couple years and said he learned the process isn’t as clean as proponents suggest.

“Stack emissions under the current permit regulations will have more carbon dioxide and particulate matter per megawatt of power than if you were burning coal. It isn’t clean and that’s a huge issue,” Sammons said.

Studies have shown that fine particulate matter can exacerbate respiratory or cardiac problems in children, as well as increase cases of asthma and cancer among both children and adults, Sammons said.

That forum was held on 22 June 2010.

Later that same evening:

Public opposition torched Traverse City Light & Power’s proposed construction of a wood-burning biomass plant.

The Light & Power board agreed Tuesday night to take a harder look at natural gas-fired electrical generating plants, relegating its controversial biomass gasification plant to a low-priority option.

“I think it’s shelved right now,” said city Commissioner Ralph Soffredine, a member of the Light & Power board. “We did not do a good job getting the information out and getting people behind us, so we need to move on. This is a matter of listening to the people.”

Opponents said biomass would lead to deforestation, create heavy truck traffic, and cause health problems due to particulate matter in the emissions.

That sounds familiar.

Is a delay enough?

“It’s worth celebrating that they are listening to the public, but we are moving forward with our opposition to make sure it’s not just a low priority but no priority,” said Jeff Gibbs, of Traverse City, who helped lead opposition to the plant. “Biomass is just the worst option of all; it’s dirtier than fossil fuels, and it’s not economical.”
Stay tuned.