Turning Waste into Energy – and Jobs

It has come to my attention that a disgruntled former employee is likely working with Commissioner Bisterfeldt to accuse the Board of Ada County Commissioners of having violated the Idaho Open Meeting Law nearly a year-and-a-half ago with regard to the Dynamis project. We have not done so.

Here are the facts: In 2009 and early 2010, our (now-retired) Landfill Director Dave Neal came to the Board on several occasions requesting that we consider raising rates at the landfill. Although the Ada County landfill is a self-supporting enterprise fund that does not utilize property tax dollars, we were all opposed to raising rates, and suggested that Mr. Neal find a better way to make ends meet.

Commissioner Fred Tilman came to me in May or June of 2010 and informed me that he had met with representatives of a local company that potentially had an innovative solution to some of our landfill issues. He and Rick Yzaguirre had already met with them and suggested that I meet with them to learn more about their company and how they might possibly reduce our landfill costs. Fred, Rick and I each met with representatives of Dynamis during May or early June of 2010.

Although the Ada County Landfill is subject to different purchasing laws than the county in general (see below,) I asked that the county put out a Request for Proposals for renewable energy projects. On June 18, 2010, a Request for Expressions of Interest went out. There was no deadline for submission of proposals, and we remain open to the possibility of co-locating other renewable energy projects at the landfill site. I believe that a solar project, to complement our current gas-to-energy plant and the future waste-to-energy project, would be an excellent fit. To date, I believe the county has received about a dozen proposals, including a formal written proposal from Dynamis.

In late June, our lead attorney and I negotiated a proposed agreement with Dynamis. That agreement appeared on our June 30, 2010, Open Business Meeting agenda for consideration by the full Board, and it received unanimous support and approval.

We have been very open about the Dynamis project. In fact, on June 30, we put out a news release announcing the partnership to the public.

Commissioner Bisterfeldt has refused to meet with anyone from Dynamis. He has never looked at the plans for the project and I don’t believe he even understands it.

Our landfill gas-to-energy project, a partnership with Fortistar, brings approximately a quarter of a million dollars’ worth of revenue to the landfill a year. When the Dynamis project is up and running, it will save the county (our ratepayers) about $2 million a year for the first five years it is operational. The company will employ approximately 60 people, will generate sales and income tax revenue for the state, and will employ several hundred construction workers while it is being built. It will also generate much-needed power.

Commissioner Yzaguirre and I continue to try to find ways to save money for our ratepayers and taxpayers. In a two-to-one decision, this year, Rick and I left the allowable three percent property tax increase on the table for the sixth year in a row. The cumulative benefit to our taxpayers is just shy of $60 million we have left in their pockets.

Given the numerous benefits to the state and local community of the Dynamis project, someone ought to ask Commissioner Bisterfeldt why he stated last week that he will do everything he can to cause the project to fail.

Landfill Purchasing
31-4403. Operation and maintenance. It shall be the duty of the board of county commissioners in each of the several counties to acquire sites or facilities, and maintain and operate solid waste disposal systems. Such maintenance and operation may, by exclusive or nonexclusive means, be performed through or by:
(1) Employees, facilities, equipment and supplies hired by or acquired by the board of county commissioners;
(2) Contracts, franchises or otherwise, entered into by the board to have the maintenance and operation performed by private persons;
(3) Contracts entered into by the board to have the maintenance and operation performed by another unit of government;
(4) Contracts, franchises or otherwise, granted pursuant to law by the board, for all or any part or parts of the county;
(5) Any combination of subsections (1), (2), (3) and (4) of this section;
(6) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, in order to provide for the public health, safety, and well-being, the board of county commissioners and/or another unit of state government, may determine whether solid waste disposal systems services are to be provided by means of a contract, franchise or otherwise, provided for under subsection (2) of this section, or any contract, franchise or otherwise, awarded under subsection (4) of this section, with or without compulsory competitive bidding;
(7) The board of county commissioners before entering into such contracts, franchises or otherwise may require such security for the performance thereof as it deems appropriate or may waive such undertaking.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *