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Archive for Friday, November 4, 2011

Renewable energy options to be studied for Farmland Industries site

November 4, 2011

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Federal agencies will spend $35,000 to study how the former Farmland Industries site could one day support the production of renewable energy.

On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would pay the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Laboratory to evaluate the possibility of putting some kind of renewable energy production on the empty Farmland site, which sits along Kansas Highway 10 on the eastern edge of Lawrence.

The study will first determine what kind of alternative would work best on the site, such as geothermal, solar, wind or bioenergy, said Matt Bond, whom the city has designated as the project manager for the Farmland cleanup.

The EPA mentioned exploring the potential for producing alternative energy from plant-based materials, such as a biopower facility or a biorefinery.

“It’s a really logical place to consider something like that,” said Eileen Horn, the sustainability coordinator for the city of Lawrence and Douglas County who worked on the application. “And the good news is we can start day-dreaming and studying what the right application is for renewable energy while actively cleaning up (the site).”

For nearly 50 years, Farmland Industries manufactured fertilizer on the site. It closed in 2001, leaving behind contaminated groundwater and land. More than a year ago, the city took ownership of the property from the bankrupt Farmland, an acquisition that included an $8.6 million trust to clean the property.

In August, the Lawrence City Commission agreed to hire consultants to help the city develop a master plan for the 450-acre site. At that time, the commissioners urged the staff to consider working with consultants that could help develop the property as a “green-energy business park.” The hope was that the future industrial and commercial businesses at the park could actually use the alternative energy produced and it would be a marketing advantage.

As of now, 300 acres of the property are cleaned up and ready for development, Bond said.

The alternative energy study could take a year or longer to produce. The first step will be a meeting with the city and federal agencies that will determine what strategy to take. The remaining time will be spent gathering and analyzing data.

“It’s an attractive research tool to help attract businesses,” Horn said.

The study is part of EPA’s RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative, which encourages renewable energy development on contaminated land. The Farmland project is one of 26 across the country.

Comments

screamingraisin 2 years, 5 months ago

I think that this would be a great use for this site that has been polluted for many years. This is a great opportunity to clean up this site. Renewable energy is an industry that will be very important to the future. Plus A lot of jobs would be created.

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atiopatioo 2 years, 5 months ago

If the renewable energy is a good deal why wait for the Farmland site. This is Kansas. It has lots of vacant land.

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hipper_than_hip 2 years, 5 months ago

I'm in favor of a bridge across the river and turnpike interchange straight north of Farmland to help move the product.

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Floyd Craig 2 years, 5 months ago

oh the citys got thier hands in there n will rake in money for thier pockets they always do

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eotw33 2 years, 5 months ago

I say leave it contaminated and move both Wal-Marts to the site

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formergrocerybagger 2 years, 5 months ago

Its a good thing lawrence does not have a mayor/city councilman that has the potential to profit from a renewable energy project!

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Liberty275 2 years, 5 months ago

Lawrence can have it's own Solyndra!

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Les Blevins 2 years, 5 months ago

Merrill, you began your post with the comment "No single solution can meet our society's future energy needs" and I agree. Please search google for < blevins on combined wind and biomass > and you will find mention of a 1999 ENN article at the top of the list that offers readers a general position I've held for many years that agrees with your comment. And if anyone would like to read that article as it first came out they can email me with the words ENN Article in the subject line and I'll send it back by return email..

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Les Blevins 2 years, 5 months ago

The renewable energy industry can be a real driver of growth across the country. Several $billions of dollars in investment will be needed in the energy industry over the coming decades, it represents remarkable opportunities for new companies in the renwable and alternative energy sector.

Cooperative or community owned energy projects offer many advantages. It stimulates the local economy by creating new jobs and new business opportunities for the host community while simultaneously expanding the tax base and generating new income for local residents. A locally owned energy project also generates support from the community by getting people directly involved.

Another advantage of community energy projects is that they can be owned cooperatively or collectively through a variety of legal mechanisms. Ownership strategies can include limited liability corporations (LLCs), cooperatives, school districts, municipal utilities or other municipal entities, or a combination of these. Sometimes a partnership with an existing utility can be mutually beneficial.

An excellent example of this approach is the prominent, commercial-scale wind turbine located on Toronto Ontario's harbor front that is 50 percent owned by WindShare, a 427-member cooperative of local residents, while the other half is owned by Toronto Hydro Energy Services. While the appropriate model will differ, depending on a wide range of variables, what these strategies all have in common is some form of community ownership and group benefit. This is now becoming a trend that Lawrence and Douglas County could tap into with proper leadership.

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Les Blevins 2 years, 5 months ago

All good points Merrill. Last month the nation saw only 80,000 jobs added, far fewer than the 100,000 that economists had expected. The gain was the smallest in four months, and because the population is always growing, it takes about 125,000 a month just to keep up with the population growth, and more to bring down the rate of unemployment. The ranks of America’s poorest have climbed to a record high, it’s now 1 in 15 people and it’s spread widely across metropolitan areas as the housing bust has pushed many inner-city poor into suburbs and other outlying places. New census data paints a stark and unhappy portrait when the haves and have-nots remain so divided and when the unemployment rate remains so persistently high. Lawrence and Douglas County could help lead and direct the nation back to a more healthy state if only local leaders would take up the challenge and empower a national change of direction as we did during the lead-up to the Civil War.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 5 months ago

The real deal would be tying East Lawrence neighborhoods into that source of cleaner power.

Since there would be no: 1. CEO's 2. Shareholders 3. golden parachutes 4. special interest campaign spending 5. Corp jets

it would seem this source could be offered for way less money yet contribute enough to offset the cost. This cleaner source plus Hill's hydro power could help get a lot of customers off the conventional toxic grid into a more sustainable grid. Why not?

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 5 months ago

"Since none of the alternative technologies are self-sustaining"

Says who?

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 5 months ago

No single solution can meet our society's future energy needs. The answer lies instead in a family of diverse energy technologies that share a common thread: they do not deplete our natural resources or destroy our environment. Renewable energy technologies tap into natural cycles and systems, turning the ever-present energy around us into usable forms

A Bright Future for the Heartland: Powering the Midwest Economy with Clean Energy This UCS report shows how tapping the Midwest’s clean energy potential could drive billions of dollars in new business investment, create thousands of jobs, and save families and businesses billions through lower utility bills, while reducing the state’s dependence on coal and associated carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/

The Connections Between Our Energy and Water Most of us understand how installing a low-flow showerhead or turning off the water while brushing our teeth makes sense for saving water. But what if buying an efficient refrigerator or installing energy-efficient lighting was just as connected to saving water, using less energy, and causing fewer carbon emissions? http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/

Tapping Into Wind Power Explore how wind power is one of the most cost-effective sources of electricity available, capable of generating power at prices competitive with new natural gas plants and cheaper than new coal and nuclear plants, while offering substantial public health, economic, and environmental benefits. http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/

California Passes Renewable Energy Standard, Takes the Lead on Renewable Energy, Green Jobs California’s landmark renewable energy standard legislation—the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS), or 33 percent RPS law. The 33 percent RPS law creates the strongest renewable energy requirement in the country and positions California as a national leader in clean energy investments. http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/

Burning Coal, Burning Cash: Ranking the States That Import the Most Coal Importing coal is a major drain on state economies. UCS shows the scale of these costs, and suggests how those funds can instead be invested in energy efficiency and homegrown clean energy. http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/

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Les Blevins 2 years, 5 months ago

Community Supported Energy could fill a huge gap in the present power sector. And this approach is not limited to wind power. It can be applied to virtually any type of local renewable energy project such as solar thermal or photovoltaic, biomass and waste-to-energy and a variety of biofuels production facilities and even small-scale hydro such as is being installed now on the river at Lawrence.

When applied to a wide variety of renewable energy technologies, this strategy is known as Community Supported Energy (CSE). CSE projects are somewhat similar to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). The main difference, however, is that instead of investing in potatoes, carrots, or cucumbers, with CSE, local residents invest in energy projects that provide greater energy security and a wide variety of other benefits. My vision is that our fair city will empower this movement all over North America and beyond and this will serve as a boost for the local economy when we become the manufacturing point for equipment that will empower other communities around the world.

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Les Blevins 2 years, 5 months ago

Generally all across North America we have the necessary resources to meet most of our energy needs in the future with renewable energy. Until fairly recently one key strategy has, for the most part, been overlooked in North America. This innovative strategy involves the cooperative and collaborative installation and ownership of advanced renewable energy projects at the local, community level. This is what should be the driving force behind the development of the former Farmland Industrial site.

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Les Blevins 2 years, 5 months ago

I believe the EPA study should show the best use of the former Farmland site would be to use the location to produce renewable and alternative energy products that will be shipped all over the nation and ultimately convert biomass and waste into cleaner energy. In this way the former Farmland site can effectively produce millions of times more renewable energy in thousands of far off locations than ever will be available on the site itself from the sun and wind. Plus the manufacture of these renewable energy products can create several hundred good paying local jobs on the site and only those people who oppose the local manufacturing of products and support reliance on the importation of products into this area (such as Ms Horn and the City Commission) will oppose this.

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devobrun 2 years, 5 months ago

They had better hurry. Obama will not be reelected in a year. The EPA will get funding cut in a republican administration. And the federal government will continue to slide into the red.

Since none of the alternative technologies are self-sustaining, the loss of government support will mean the patch of ground will sit idle.

Farmland made nitrogen fertilizer using a process of replacing the carbon in methane with nitrogen. There are some nice big natural gas pipes going into the place. With the plethora of gas wells going in around the country the price of methane is dropping. How 'bout developing the land to utilize the energy of the future....natural gas.

Natural gas is the feed stock for lots of chemicals. Chemical plant. Natural gas will be a cheap energy source for many kinds of manufacturing. The site is set up for just these things and that means......... Jobs.

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kansasplains 2 years, 5 months ago

I would like to see, among other things, a green-oriented shopping center, with a large grocery store (why not Whole Foods?). Then, when people first arrive in Lawrence, they will want to pull off to get food and other things. There could be a bicycle path and bus route to join up with other parts of Lawrence for people who live in Lawrence but don't want to drive there, especially during warmer months.

There could be lots of trees, a fountain for summer months, and especially a children's park there too.

It should be a lot more than just a business center.

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