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Biomass plant could power Thurmont

Stephanie Long

(12/6) The construction of a power plant in Thurmont that would save money for the town and benefit the environment at the same time may be right around the corner if William Rodenberg has anything to do with it.

At the most-recent Thurmont Economic Development Council meeting, held Nov. 21, Rodenberg, owner of Energy Management Strategies, Inc., shared his “Vision for Thurmont’s Energy Future,” which involves the building of a large power plant that would use biomass to create the power.

Employing reliable and proven technology, Biomass, such as wood chips or animal droppings, would be broken down using anaerobic respiration or other methods to produce the electricity which could then be distributed to the town or possibly sold to other places.

By using biomass as a power source, the town would no longer need to use fossil fuels, which would stabilize the current price of electricity because the cost of electricity would no longer rise with the market.

In addition to saving the town money in the long run, the plant would have a zero carbon footprint, Rodenberg said, as it would use renewable biomass for fuel, which will remove over 150 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere annually.

Furthermore, the building of the plant would lure new business and jobs to Thurmont due to the stable energy prices, Rodenberg said.

While Rodenberg said there are companies interested in the plant, finding the money to fund the plant is a main obstacle standing in the way of the project. There are places to get the funding for the plant, which would cost an estimated $40 – $50 million to build, through grants or loans but getting the money takes time and involves a great deal of work.

Rodenberg is currently working with the Maryland Energy Administration to acquire a grant, which he hopes to have sometime between the end of the year and April 2008.

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