James Rada, Jr.
(9/20) The Town of Thurmont once
generated its own power for its residents
using water now with the rising cost of
electricity the town commissioners are
considering using farm wastes and other
renewable sources to generate power for
Thurmont residents once again.
“The advantage will be that this will be
cutting edge technology, our electric rates
will be more stable and we won’t be depending
on other companies for our power,” said
Thurmont Commissioner Bill Blakeslee.
Thurmont has hired Energy Management
Strategies, a Thurmont consulting firm, to
develop ways that the town can provide
electricity to its current customers. The
company owner, William Rodenberg, is certified
by the Association of Energy Managers as an
Because both the town and Rodenberg want
the plant to be environmentally friendly, the
most-likely power source would be biomass fuel
like manure and farm waste.
“Every ton of manure we take and turn into
electricity is a ton of manure that doesn’t
wind up in the Chesapeake Bay,” Rodenberg
Thurmont owns the distribution network for
many of the town residents, but has to buy
power to be distributed through it co-op with
other municipalities. While many residents of
the county have seen electric rate hikes in
the range of 70 percent, Thurmont’s recent
hikes added up to about 46 percent.
By generating and distributing its own
electricity, the town will have better control
over the rates charged to its customers.
Energy Management Strategies will do this
work for the town for $1.
“The agreement is that we would pay him $1,
but if he could get development grants for the
project, he would get that,” Blakeslee said.
Rodenberg estimates that the best-case
scenario would allow the town to begin power
generation in four years when the town’s
current power contract expires.
“We need to come up with a way to sell the
heat we generate also,” Blakeslee said.
This is because a power plants waste about
two-thirds of the thermal energy that goes
into them, according to Rodenberg.
He said a “very rough” estimate is that a
plant for Thurmont would generate 30 megawatts
of electricity with any excess being sold.
Such a plant would cost around $50 million.
“I don’t see the financing for this thing
being a problem,” Rodenberg said.
Because the technology uses renewable
resources, the plant would also create energy
credits that power companies that don’t use
enough renewable energy resources would be
anxious to buy. There are also many
low-interest loans available to plants that
would use renewable sources of energy.