After a highly-charged debate that has lasted for several months, a company has received the OK by the county’s board of commissioners to construct a gasification plant in Lithonia.
“Yes we’re emotional, but that doesn’t change the facts,” said Dr. Darren Harper, a professor at Morehouse School of Medicine who lives in Lithonia. “And the facts are that these toxins that will be spewed into our environment [and] into our community will be killing people and making them sick. Just say ‘no’ to this gasification plant.”
Upholding a motion to approve the plan by Commissioner Lee May, the board voted to approve the proposed 10-megawatt facility to be located on 21 acres on Rogers Lake Road outside the city limits of Lithonia. Green Energy Partners is planning to construct a $60 million plant to convert yard waste into renewable natural gas.
According to Green Energy officials, the plant will use a method called pyrolysis in which yard trimmings are placed in oxygen-free chambers. The chambers are then heated to 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit with natural gas burners to produce syngas, which is turned into renewable natural gas (RNG).
During construction the project would bring 500 temporary construction jobs and add $60 million to the county’s tax base. Nearly 100 permanent jobs will be created to run the facility.
May’s motion added 18 conditions to the plant, including the formation of a community advisory committee which would monitor the activities of Green Energy Partners.
May said the controversy surrounding the project stems from a difference of opinion on the technology used.
“The overwhelming evidence is that converting wood into energy is better for the environment,” May said. “It’s better for our public health. It reduces our dependence on fossil fuels like coal.
“That allows us to be better stewards of the environment,” May said.