James Rada, Jr.
(1/17) Thurmont’s proposed
eco-friendly power plant that could open as
early as 2011 has gotten off to a slow start,
though there are some encouraging signs.
“It’s almost like I have to prove the job
is feasible before I can get the grant to do
the feasibility study,” said Bill Rodenberg,
owner of Energy Management Strategies,
Rodenberg updated the town commissioners on
his progress on conducting a feasibility study
for a power plant that runs on biomass and
“We came up with a plan that we think, for
different reasons, make almost everybody
happy,” Rodenberg said during the Jan.7
Thurmont hired Energy Management Strategies
in September to develop ways that the town can
provide electricity to its current customers.
Rodenberg is certified by the Association of
Energy Managers as an energy manager.
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.
However, the way the town will be able to
stabilize the rates will be by not connecting
the power plant’s energy source to a fossil
fuel. The plan is to use wood wastes and
biomass like animals wastes to generate
“This is a case where we can do something
positive financially by controlling costs, at
the same,” Rodenberg said.
The plant will be able to remove 1.4
million tons of carbon dioxide from the
atmosphere annually, according to Rodenberg.
“That is not small. That is not
insignificant,” he said.
The estimated costs to construct a 30
megawatt plant would be around $60 million.
“To the best of my knowledge, this would be
the largest biomass plant in the United
States,” 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.
“If we were willing to sell the REC’s
(Renewable Energy Credits) to Allegheny
(Power), they’d finance it (the plant) only
they don’t know it yet. That’s how desirable
these REC’s are,” Rodenberg said.
The hope is that the plant would also act
as an economic development tool by attracting
businesses that could benefit from stable
power costs. Rodenberg said he has already
spoken to one company that is thinking of
moving 25-40 jobs to a new location and is
willing to consider Thurmont.
Anyone with questions about the plant can
e-mail Rodenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.