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Chicken-waste power plant proposed near Sonoma

A private company's plan to use chicken waste to power an energy generation project south of the city of Sonoma will go before the county Board of Supervisors today.

The special board meeting started at 8:30 a.m. and will deal specifically with the financing behind the project.

But it also will be a first chance for the public to comment on the proposed site of the facility. Two locations are under consideration, one at the Sonoma County Water Agency's treatment plant on 8th Street East and the other on an adjacent property recently purchased by the agency.

OHR Biostar, a partnership of the Los Angeles County-based engineering firm OHR Energy and Kansas City-based BioStar Systems, has been in talks with the county for about a year.

The company wants to use waste from local egg farms to feed a manure digester that would generate methane gas and power a 1.4 megawatt fuel cell. That's enough to serve about 2,100 typical residences, based on West Coast power usage. The company would sell gas to PG&E and electricity to the county. It would also sell leftover waste as fertilizer.

Currently waste from local egg farms is trucked to Oakland where it is used to generate power for the East Bay Municipal Utility District.

County officials say the facility will result in shorter truck trips, which will cut down on greenhouse gases, and add another local source of renewable energy.

It would be the first project in the county to use poultry waste to generate power. Several local projects produce power using cow manure from dairy farms.

The project is in the early planning stages and has yet to undergo environmental review.

Thursday's meeting will allow for discussion and comment on plans by the state's Municipal Finance Authority to issue $35 million in bonds to help OHR Biostar build the project.

The company plans to own and operate the project and will be solely responsible for repayment of the bonds, county officials said.


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