First Posted: 3/14/2009
To the Editor,
My wife and I attended both the County Commissioners meeting on March 2, and the Planning Board meeting on March 9.
Re-zoning by the Planning Board was required to allow for the Fibrowatt plant to be built near Elkin at the site chosen by the County Commissioners. Yet at the Planning Board meeting we were not allowed to mention Fibrowatt. And after just a few of us spoke, discussion was cut off. Several interested, tax paying citizens were denied the opportunity to express their concerns to the Board. Fibrowatt people got over two years to talk to the Board. We tax payers got about twenty minutes.
Chief among my concerns is how can burning chicken litter be called renewable energy? The chicken litter may indeed be a renewable resource. But the complete proposed process is estimated to require 500 million cubic feet of natural gas per year; 300,000 gallons of fresh, clean water per day (25% of Elkins current daily water production); and the burning of enough diesel to keep the estimated 70 eighteen wheel trucks on the road hauling chicken litter daily each truck of course both coming and going thus the equivalent of 140 additional big trucks daily through the Elkin area and onto narrow, winding Rte 268.
And what about hidden costs? Unintended consequences? The effects of having a huge litter incinerator on the banks of the beautiful Yadkin river? Will Elkin need a new water plant? Last summer when we had drought, could it have supplied an additional 300,000 gallons per day? And what about Rte 268? Will tax money be required to rebuild, straighten, and widen Rte 268? Will we wait until deadly accidents have occurred and then rebuild the highway? What will be the cost to the wine industry, and the residents who will have to live under the pollution from the 300 foot smokestack? If its a clean process, why does it require a 300 foot tall smokestack? The Fibrowatt plant in Benson, Minnesota has an air quality permit that allows them to emit 4.8 million pounds of pollutants per year.
Burning chicken litter may in a limited sense be called renewable energy, but it is in no sense either clean or green energy. Is it even really efficient energy production? Does the process, when viewed overall including the diesel burned in the trucks, consume more energy than it produces?