County approves poultry waste-recycling and power-generation facility

The Sussex County Council voted unanimously on July 31 to approve a conditional-use application that would allow CleanBay Renewables to construct and operate a renewable-energy facility on 16.71 acres on the west side of Route 113, south of Georgetown.

Annually, 90,000 tons of chicken litter will be recycled there through anaerobic digestion and nutrient-recovery technologies, with an aim to create renewable energy for the region and significantly reduce the amount of phosphorus that remains in the resulting soil amendment that can be used by local farmers.

Along with the soil amendment, the plant would provide a continuous production of 5 megawatts of power (enough to serve approximately 3,500 homes or 10,000 people), and would have a power purchase agreement with Delaware Electric Cooperative (DEC).

In February, the county Planning & Zoning Commission had voted unanimously to recommend the approval of the application, with a number of conditions, including that all improvements for nutrient recovery and electrical generation would be constructed and maintained in accordance with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control, the Office of the State Fire Marshal, and any other state or federal agencies that have any jurisdiction over the development and use of the site.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman Sam Wilson requested an amendment to the conditions placed on the application to include that no entrance from the site should be to or from Breasure Road.

“I think it’s a good for our environment, and I think there’s a lot of positives with this,” said Councilman Rob Arlett, adding that he felt that the traffic-related concerns voiced by residents near the property had been addressed with the additional requirement.

Another condition placed upon the conditional use includes limiting truck deliveries to the site to between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

According to CleanBay Renewables, the site — known as Sussex I — will create more than 15 new full-time jobs.

“We are thrilled with the support Sussex I has received from county officials, the community and industry alike,” said Tom Spangler, founder and managing director of CleanBay Renewables. “Sussex I will create renewable energy in a way that protects the Chesapeake Bay, provides for local farmers, creates new jobs and strengthens the electrical power grid. This is a win for the entire Delmarva region.”

Construction on the facility is expected to begin in 2019.

By Maria Counts
Staff Reporter