The Missouri Center for Waste to Energy has received a $1.8 million grant to fund the construction of alternative energy business incubator facilities on the project’s Sedalia landfill site.
The grant, provided through the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration, is the latest in state and federal support for the center, a partnership between State Fair Community College, ProEnergy Services and Waste Corporation of Missouri. The project includes the construction of a facility at Sedalia’s landfill to trap and convert methane gas into electricity. The electricity generated will be sold back to Kansas City Power & Light through a still-pending purchase agreement.
Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank called the center, and projects like it, “critical to creating jobs and improving our nation’s economic competitiveness,” in a press release announcing the award.
“This EDA grant will provide the physical space for the incubation of emerging green technology companies while adding technological capability for the college’s diverse training programs to better prepare the workforce for jobs in the new economy,” Blank said.
State Fair Community College Vice President for Advancement and Resource Development Michael Ash said the award will aid in the construction of up to four incubator sites where businesses with innovative ideas can prepare their concepts for the marketplace.
In April 2010, SFCC signed a letter of intent with Bonnots Mill-based Hitec LLC as the first incubator. The company will use its incubator site to further develop a system that converts scrap tires and other waste materials into energy and reusable products.
“We are very excited about the momentum of the project. We are still trying to work out all the details and pieces and parts — they are immeasurable as far as all that is involved in making this a reality,” Ash told the Democrat on Wednesday.
The project launched with a $1.6 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) last fall meant to fund the sinking of methane wells and the construction of a power generation plant at the landfill. SFCC also received a $718,500 Training for Tomorrow grant last March to fund the college’s alternative energy training program, which enrolled its first class of 33 students this fall and also saw the hiring of David Albers as program director and dedicated instructor.
The program will offer training and certification in biomass, solar-electric, and wind power generation and maintenance, Ash said.
“We expect to have room for up to three more incubator businesses, so some of that space will be quite generic to start. That space will be open and then we can build it to suit new partners,” Ash said.
He said the project hopes to see a groundbreaking ceremony in October, with the drilling of the landfill’s methane wells to begin in January. The project is expected to be up and running by June. When completed, the first phase of the project is expected to generate 1.6 megawatts of electricity at full capacity, though further phases may push energy generation up to 4 megawatts.
With an ever-increasing amount of investment dollars and potential growth in the coming years, Ash said the college is also excited about its position at the forefront of “green energy.”
“We are feeling pretty good about that. The whole renewable energy industry has picked up and we are proud to be a part of the wave,” Ash said.
--Dennis Rich, Sedalia Democrat