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Council hears proposal from Colorado company for a $35 million waste to gas plant

The Mason City City Council heard a proposal Tuesday night from a Colorado-based company looking to build a prototype syngas plant in Mason City.

Rod Flores, Creative Energy Systems (CES) Engineer, made a presentation outlining the project. It would be a roughly $35 million dollar project, employing about 58 people. 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. 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.

Read more about the proposed plant here.

In a 5-1 vote, the City Council agreed to allow the process of moving the project forward to continue. “It would send the wrong message to say ‘no’,” said Council member Don Nelson.

Council member Scott Tornquist said he agreed with concerns that some of the public voiced during a lengthy public forum, but said that allowing the process to move forward while more facts are gathered is the right thing to do.

The lone dissenting vote came from Council member Max Weaver, who flatly said he “does not want to do business” with CES. He explained that he has concerns over waste products and how they would be disposed of. Weaver also sits on the North Iowa Landfill Board and has a weighted vote of about 30% there. CES must get the approval of the North Iowa Landfill Board in order to move the project forward.

During the aforementioned public forum, citizens voiced both support and reservations about the waste to gas plant. Watch the video below to hear the entire discussion. One of the speakers was the Mayor of Nora Springs, George Anderson. Anderson said it was the wrong time for the council to consider the project and that the North Iowa Landfill should consent first.

The landfill’s operation would likely be dramatically altered if the CES project is completed. Much of the garbage collected in North Iowa would be diverted directly to the CES plant for sorting and then super-heated to form gas that power turbines that then create electricity that is finally sold to Alliant Energy. This trash currently goes straight to the landfill. Under an agreement with CES, that changes. CES also is asking for $5 per ton to be paid to CES for accepting the trash that is now currently going to the landfill. There is also a question of current landfill employees and their job status. However, the “life-expectancy” of the landfill would likely be prolonged by bringing less garbage there to be buried.

Before any plant could be built, CES has several hurdles to clear: City Council approval, Landfill Board approval, Iowa Dept. of Natural resources permits and approval, Mason City Zoning Board, a formal contract with Alliant Energy and their own financing for the $35 million dollar project.


North Iowa Corridor Director Brent Willett and Creative Energy Systems Engineer Rod Flores look on as the Mayor of Nora Springs, George Anderson, gives his thoughts on the proposed waste to energy plant for Mason City’s south side:


Rod Flores of CES presents to the City Council on a proposed waste to gas plant:

Public forum, which was dominated by discussion on the waste to gas plant:

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