With the entire nation on the hunt for cheap, renewable energy, the city of Beaumont may once again become the place where an energy revolution takes place.
One of the top concerns for the U.S. is the future of oil with rising demand and worries about supply. But GGI Energy says they have a solution that would be economically friendly, as well as reduce the carbon footprint left by the average American. GGI is a global manufacturer of waste-to-energy equipment whose mission is “to deliver innovative efficient, profitable and environmentally responsible solutions to zero waste.”
The company presented its solution, with the support of former U.S. Congressman Nick Lampson, to the Beaumont City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 13, and said it hopes to launch the technology already utilized in Japan here in Southeast Texas in the next few years. Their wish is to invest $30 million in the Beaumont economy by building a “waste-to-energy plant” at the city’s landfill.
Through GGI’s proprietary gasification process, the plant at the landfill would take various forms of waste and convert them into a high-quality, low-pollution fuel that is ready for market. The technology used to generate the diesel has zero emissions, according to Rodolfo Jiminez, GGI’s president, because it is created through a non-combustion process.
This plant would be the first of its kind in the U.S. with GGI hoping to build another three in the state in the coming years.
GGI Energy earned the support of Lampson, who while serving as a U.S. congressman also served on the House Science Committee and the subcommittee on energy and environment, which is where he came in contact with GGI.
“I learned their proposal for getting rid of municipal waste of liquids and solids was not totally melancholy, but is very unique in the manner of which they do it,” said Lampson. “You hear about very large facilities being built. They’re very costly, very hard to come by, and they have to do them on a massive basis to make them financially feasible.
What makes this different is that it was designed out of Japan out of necessity. They can’t bury (their waste), they can’t burn it, and over a period of about 10 years, starting in about 2000, they were able to create something that they were able to put into a neighborhood and dispose of most of the garbage. It reduces their transportation (costs), it reduces their emissions and it can be done economically feasibly.”
Through their waste-to-energy facility, Jiminez said the company could convert 68,000 tons of carbon-based waste into about five million gallons of fuel on an annual basis. In return for a $30-million production facility that would be operated by GGI, Jiminez asked that the city allow the plant to be built on three acres of land at the city’s landfill with a 20- to 40-year lease agreement, as well as supply GGI with the base it needs to create the fuel – garbage. The company also said part of the agreement would include either an option for a 25 percent discount on the diesel produced, or an annual $400,000 payment.
Jiminez said the plant could produce as many as 120 jobs in Southeast Texas, and would be a more viable option rather than adding onto the current landfill as it gets filled.“A lot of projects have been presented,” said Lampson of his time on the subcommittee. “This is one of the best things I’ve ever seen for this community.”
Jiminez said GGI hopes to reach an agreement with the city of Beaumont, as well as Port Arthur and Angleton, which would mean the launch of an initiative in the Americas that could provide for a new energy source for the country.
The City Council chose to move forward with receiving more information relating to the investment and to continue negotiations between city officials and GGI. If the council votes to allow for the facility to be built in the coming weeks, Jiminez said it would take 12 to 18 months for the plant to be built and to become operational.
Other city business
Also during the Tuesday council meeting, city officials voted to suspend Entergy Texas’ proposed rate increase for an additional 90 days until April 2, 2012. The proposed increase would cost an average resident using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity $14.37 more a month.
According to Kyle Hayes, Beaumont city manager, each city that has exclusive original jurisdiction, as Beaumont does, must make a determination regarding the increase or to suspend the proposed effective date. City officials decided to postpone the rate increase until further research can be done.
Beaumont will join with other cities in Entergy’s service area on a steering committee to review the rate, as well as participate in the rate case filed before the Public Utilities Commission of Texas. All the legal fees incurred
will be paid for by Entergy.
Council members also approved an ordinance amendment that would grant additional points in ExxonMobil’s consideration to be nominated as a “triple jumbo enterprise project” by the Texas Enterprise Zone program. The city originally approved an ordinance that would allow Exxon to take part in the program in mid-November.
The zone program is an economic development tool for cities to use to partner with the state of Texas to produce jobs and create investments in economically disadvantaged areas. If awarded, the company is eligible for sales tax refunds on some purchases for five years, according to information from the city.