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Waste to energy plant proposed for Mason City’s south side

At a North Iowa Landfill Board meeting Thursday night, investors presented a plan to build a waste to energy plant on Mason City’s south side near the corner of South Pierce Avenue and 43rd Street. The plant would take about 250 tons of trash on average per day from the landfill and divert it to the plant where it would be sorted, gasified to produce a syngas and ultimately electricity. The plant would employ about 58 people if it moves forward.

The investment company, called Creative Energy Systems (CES) was represented by CEO Joe Yavorski and Engineer Rod Flores. CES is asking for a 10 year minimum commitment from all parties in this venture.

The site on 43rd Street SW, adjacent to the Golden Grain plant, was mainly chosen due to its proximity to an Alliant Energy substation and the fact that they need four or more acres of land. The cost to move the energy once it is produced from a hypothetical plant built right at the landfill all the way to the substation would be cost-prohibitive.

The plant would run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The plant would be fully enclosed indoors, and would be insulated to keep noise and sound to a minimum.

The trash brought to the plant would be stored indoors as well, and a 7 day stockpile of trash would be kept on hand for days when no trash is picked up. Flores said the trash would not seep into the soil, as it would be kept on a concrete surface.

The plant would produce 10 megawatts of power each day. “That’s all Alliant says they will accept,” Flores said. He also said this is a “small” operation compared to other plants around the country and especially in Europe, where waste to energy plants are more common and can produce 100 megawatts or more per day.

Flores also said that this plant would be a prototype, the first of its kind, and a model for future plants. CES wants to make a profit selling more plants like the one they want to bring to Mason City.

CES has already made arrangements with the land owners to acquire the land, and they have a verbal agreement in place with Alliant Energy to accept the electricity the plant would produce.

The basic process would be to bring the trash to the plant, de-bag and sort (done manually), shred the trash, dry it, gasify it, scrub and compress it and then send it to a turbine, where it would then head to Alliant’s power grid.

Flores and Yavorski said recycling the trash that would normally be buried at the Landfill could extend the life of the landfill by up to 10 times.

Obstacles remain for the project, however. The Landfill Board has to approve the partnership. CES wants $5 per ton to take the trash off the Landfill’s hands. CES made it clear they do not want to cost any employees at the landfill their jobs, but that could happen as the workload there is diminished. CES offered to bring some of those employees on board at their plant in some capacity.

(PHOTO: CES CEO Joe Yavorski speaks to the North Iowa Landfill Board.)

Mason City’s Zoning Board of Adjustment must also approve the project, as does the Mason City City Council. It was mentioned that the Landfill is currently a top-notch operation, and partnering with CES would be a major change to the Landfill’s operations.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also has to sign off on the project.

With so many obstacles in the way, Yavorski said this meeting was a starting point and all issues would be addressed in due time.

As for the possible 58 jobs, CES is planning on 22 “white collar” jobs paying on average $62,590 per year and 36 “blue-collar” jobs paying on average $27,583 per year.

More information on this project as it moves forward through the proper channels.

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