FARMVILLE — Carolina Poultry Power is eyeing Farmville to open a regional waste steam facility on Marlboro Road, between Natural Blend and Southern States.
The facility uses poultry waste, which is converted into a fuel that can be used as a substitute for natural gas to produce energy with a steam turbine.
An advanced two-stage gasification boiler is used to create steam energy from the fuel, which is generated from turkey waste or litter produced at brooder houses or chick houses, according Rich Deming, a managing partner with Carolina Poultry Power.
This methodology is not incineration, Deming said.
The first stage releases gases through high heat without enough oxygen to combust, Deming said. The second stage combusts those gases in a highly controlled environment to maximize energy release and minimize emissions, he said.
Emissions are further reduced with a more than $1 million multi-stage pollution control device system to exceed state requirements at every category, Deming added.
The steam energy from the boiler is used to power turbines that create approximately 1.45 megawatts of electricity that is highly useful, adding a 24/7-baseline power to the local grid, Deming said.
The steam exiting the turbines powers a variety of industrial processes.
Carolina Poultry Power will sell its electric power to Pitt-Greene Electric Membership Corp. at “low rates,” Deming said. Carolina Poultry Power will provide around-the-clock green power to Pitt-Greene EMC.
Hurst of Georgia is designing and installing the equipment, including a $2 million wet electrostatic precipitator or WESP machine that ensures emissions are contained within the plant.
Ash left over from the process is a highly sought-after fertilizer product, which is used regionally to offset imported potassium and phosphate soil inputs, according to Deming. The ash will be sold to fertilizer companies, Deming said.
“Now, 99 percent of litter causes land disruptions,” Deming said, explaining the gases found in litter are not advantageous to the environment.
The waste eventually flows into the nation’s waterways, causing increasing concerns for the environment and watershed by some.
“What is happening at the Chesapeake Bay is a good example of the concern. It is an environmental problem and will happen here, too,” Deming said.
Carolina Poultry Power’s plant is part of an attempt to end land litter distribution, Deming said.
“The poultry industry is not going anywhere, and dumping on the ground is not a good use ... by taking the disposal problem, we can help with economic development,” he said.
Carolina Poultry Power collects poultry litter, or waste, from farmers at a 200-acre central processing and storage center in La Grange. The litter is dried to less than 20 percent moisture content, processed to ensure a consistent texture and mixed with high wood shaving content to create a dry, odor-free, high-energy fuel for delivery to industrial sites within a 25-minute drive.
All litter transferred from the farms to the center occurs in rural areas, where litter transport would occur anyway, according to Deming. Transfers of fuel to Carolina Poultry Power industrial sites will occur in covered, non-descript trucks that are unrecognizable as agriculture transports, he said.
The concern from many is odor, Deming said, but he said through Carolina Poultry Power’s process, there is no odor detected in transport from the farm to the plant. Seven trucks are expected to enter the Farmville plant daily.
“There would be a lot of water use and jobs created,” Farmville Manager David Hodgkins said of the benefit Carolina Poultry Power would bring to town.
The Farmville plant is expected to create 30 jobs in a 10-month construction period. Once the plant is operational, Carolina Poultry Power is expected to hire five equipment operators, two co-managers, two drivers, nine regional positions and staff for executive management, office management, administration, accounting and the feedstock center.
The $17 million facility also would increase Farmville and Pitt County’s tax bases.
“We are in early discussions with the company. At this point, they haven’t requested anything from the town,” Hodgkins said.
The Pitt County Development Commission’s board has approved an incentives package for the company to locate to Pitt County, Deming said.
The Farmville plant would represent multiple clean environmental strategies, including the replacement of natural gas, which has hydraulic fracking risk to water tables, the use of poultry litter, which is now land applied, evaporation of industrial water that now overburdens the region’s stormwater system and distillation of Farmville town water, in order to provide sterilized water in industrial food production and the use of Farmville town water as feed water in Carolina Poultry Power, Deming said.
The ditches near Natural Blend are “constantly full,” Deming said. The Farmville plant’s evaporation system will help empty the stagnant water, he said.
Carolina Poultry Power plans to purchase water from the town to operate a heat exchange system that will sterilize Natural Blends’ wooden boxes and blanche Natural Blends’ food products, Deming explained.
Carolina Poultry Power plans to file for building permits within 30 to 40 days with hopes to break ground in late March, Deming said. If the timetable is met, the Farmville plant would open in September, he said.
In early 2015, Carolina Poultry Power executed a 15-year contract with Duke Energy and other utilities to produce power using poultry litter as a fuel resource. The contract was flexible as to location, and the Carolina Poultry Power team began an extensive search for ideal sites.
Carolina Poultry Power limited its search to industrial sites within 25 minutes of its processing facility in La Grange. Carolina Poultry Power identified eight feasible sites, including Farmville, with plans to build four steam facilities. Carolina Poultry Power is also hoping to open a facility in Mount Olive and another plant in Goldsboro, Deming said.
Similar waste steam plants exist in North Carolina at Prestage Farms in Clinton and at the House of Raeford Farms in Rose Hill.
Carolina Poultry Power looked at the town of Snow Hill last year with hopes of opening a plant at Hull Road and Kingold Boulevard, behind YamCo.
“They withdrew their zoning request in February 2016. There was a decent amount of community resistance,” Snow Hill Manager Dana Hill said.
The zoning request never reached the Snow Hill Planning Board, and Carolina Poultry Power never submitted another request, Hill said.
Michael Cable, the owner of Woodside Antiques in Farmville, is researching the safety of Carolina Poultry Power’s proposed waste energy process. The process is tagged as a “environmental-green process,” but Cable questions its validity.
“It is ironic how we can burn chicken (expletive) in Farmville, but we can’t raise them,” Cable said.
Approximately eight years ago, the Farmville Board of Commissioners denied residents the right to raise chickens within the town limits for the consumption of fresh eggs.