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Fibrowatt and North Carolina
Fibrowatt LLC is owned by Homeland Renewable Energy of New Hampshire. Fibrowatt wants to build poultry litter incinerators with steam-driven turbines in North Carolina. These plants will generate a relatively small amount of energy (somewhere between 40 to 55 Megawatt per plant, which is enough to power about 30,000 homes). Each plant would be allowed to emit more toxins per megawatt than a new coal plant and consume approximately 1 million gallons of water per day of which 75% will evaporate and be lost to the local watersheds.
Three incinerators were planned to be built in North Carolina:
- one in Surry County (Northwest North Carolina) *** UPDATE: This projected defeated ***
- one in Sampson County (Southeast of Raleigh)
- one in Montgomery County (South of Greensboro)
Fibrowatt has built and operated these types of plants for a number of years, beginning in England in the 1990s. Their business model is as follows: pay the way to government support (i.e. through lobbying and heavy PR work) in order to get bills passed that create mandates for “poultry litter” as a piece of the renewable energy mix (i.e., lumping it in with truly green and clean energy like wind and solar). Once these mandates exist, local power companies are forced into buying Fibrowatt’s heavily government subsidized power through 20-year power purchasing agreements which result in higher energy costs that are passed on to consumers.
The Fibrowatt Formula for Business
State Law + long-term Power Purchasing Agreements + Higher Prices for dirty, but “renewable” energy = Great Investment for a Few, but a Very Bad Deal for Tax Payers and Consumers
Negative Economic Impact on Farmers
Currently, poultry litter is being used as a natural fertilizer that adds micronutrients, minerals and other components to the soil. A holistic, sustainable farmer-to-farmer economic model now exists on a local/regional level. If this model is broken due to Fibrowatt’s demand for fuel, crop and livestock farmers stand to loose a cost effective source of natural fertilizer while poultry farmers stand to lose a viable source of income. Fibrowatt is working to secure long-term contracts with poultry farmers for a significantly lower price than the farmer-to-farmer market offers. For each Fibrowatt plant, local crop and livestock farmers will have to pay roughly $40 million dollars more annually for the purchase of chemical fertilizer than they currently do for the same nutrient value found in the poultry litter (which would be incinerated by Fibrowatt).
Other Negative Economic Impacts
Besides the farmers, particularly in Surry County, the vineyards and wineries will suffer as tourists avoid Fibrowatt’s heavy industry impacts that include 240 18-wheeler truck movements through the region each day and views of the 300 foot smokestack located on the otherwise scenic Yadkin River. The wine industry is currently one of the most booming business sectors in NC with an estimated total economic impact of the wine and grape industry in North Carolina of $813 million (2005). There are over 21 vineyards in the Yadkin Valley region, which has been referred to in media as “The Napa of North Carolina.” Why jeopardize it?
The counties where Fibrowatt is trying of building a plant are all offering huge tax incentives (ranging between $3-8 million each) in exchange for very few jobs (30-45 max per plant). These are incentives that will NOT be available to other companies that might create hundreds of jobs, nor will it go to help grow existing companies and preserve jobs. In Surry County’s case, this “investment” in Fibrowatt will work directly against the $83.32 million dollars in tourist revenue as the Yadkin Valley wineries and other parts of the tourist industry are negatively impacted.
Negative Environmental Impacts
Each Fibrowatt plant will be ALLOWED to pollute at the rate of around 4,800,000 pounds of toxins per year. These include very nasty chemicals like dioxins (remember Agent Orange?!), arsenic, hydrochloric acid, and others. According to existing permits, their plants are allowed to be more polluting than new coal-fired plants (i.e., emissions per kilowatt-hour of energy). The equation does not add up; providing tax payer funded incentives for very few jobs and lots of negative impacts. The cost is too high, green-washed and hidden under the pretense of “renewable” energy (but not clean), the pretense of being “carbon-neutral” (but not if the supply chain is considered), and the pretense of helping the environment (which is very far from the true, net impact).
To Learn More
For a more complete picture, find a comfortable place and take just about one hour of your time to read the “Facts About Fibrowatt” document (via link at bottom of this page). This document contains many well-researched facts regarding the negative impacts to the environment, the economy and public health. The accompanying appendix document (“Facts on Fibrowatt – APPENDIX”) includes numerous reference materials from well-qualified, independent sources.
To Take Action
If you are ready to take action, then please leverage the pre-drafted letters provided on this site. Here you will find drafts of letters to decision-makers that you can either print, sign and mail, or copy, paste and email. The time to act is now. Plans are being made, permits are being applied for and the parties targeted by these letters need to hear from you and your friends, neighbors and family. This is NOT a county specific issue. While polluted air affects the local area most dramatically, emission and water impacts reach far beyond the smokestack to neighboring counties and states. Communities across the state and the greater region will be affected. Your actions matter and will make the difference in sustaining North Carolina’s economic, environmental and public well-being.
For more information or If you are interested in a “Stop Fibrowatt” yard sign, please contact us.
Thank you for your interest and concern. More importantly, thank you in advance for being a part of the solution by taking action today! Public response will make the difference.
Facts about Fibrowatt (pdf)
Facts About Fibrowatt - APPENDIX (pdf)
Letters that support stopping Fibrowatt
Letter to Governor Perdue (WORD)
Letter to NC Utility Commission (WORD)
Letter to NC Senators and Representatives (WORD)
Letter to Duke Energy (WORD)
Letter to Elkin Town Council (WORD)
Letter to County Commissioners (WORD)
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