Local plant converting ice storm debris into renewable energy

Local plant converting ice storm debris into renewable energy

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Something good is coming out of the mess February's ice storm left behind. One company is turning the damaged wood into renewable energy.

"We have about 600 or 700 miles of road we have to collect from and its just turned into a really big project," Aiken County Administrator Clay Killian said.

Killian said he's witnessed plenty of storms, but he's never seen this much damage.

"We've had a lot of debris, but nothing on the magnitude of what we had here," he said. "I don't think we knew how bad it was until we started trying to collect it all and get it out of the roadways and everything else."

More than 700,000 yards of debris has been collected in Aiken since the cleanup started. Killian said if it wasn't being converted into renewable energy, the debris would probably end up in a landfill.

"That's a lot of wood debris that needs to go somewhere," Killian said. "Obviously we don't want to put any of that in our landfill because we have limited landfill space."

The Ameresco Biomass plant is converting the damaged timber into energy the Savannah River Site can use to generate steam.

"Working together, the region has been able to turn the aftermath of what was a devastating storm for all of us into something positive," Dr. David Moody, Department of Energy SR Manager at the Savannah River Site, wrote in a press release.

Since the debris is staying local, Killian says the county won't have to foot the bill for debris transportation costs or disposal fees.

Aiken County officials expect to have all the storm debris cleaned up by the middle of May.

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