North Carolina’s advocate for utility customers recommends that state regulators grant ReVenture Park’s request that they declare municipal waste yard waste are legitimate sources for renewable energy under N.C. law.

Gisele Rankin, an attorney for the Public Staff of the N.C. Utilities Commission, made the recommendation at a staff conference with the commission on Monday. The Public Staff is assigned to protect the interests of utility customers in hearings before the commission.

Also at that conference was Lou Zeller of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, which opposes ReVenture’s request.

Renewable requirements ReVenture intends to build a $160 million waste-to-energy plant on a 667-acre Superfund site west of Charlotte. The power from 20-megawatt plant is to be sold to Duke Energy. But ReVenture says it cannot arrange for the sale of the power until the commission issues a ruling that the power the plant produces will qualify as renewable energy. ReVenture plans to take municipal waste and yard waste from Mecklenburg County and process it into a fuel that will be converted into a synthetic gas. That gas will be burned to produce electricity.

A state law passed in 2007 requires utilities in North Carolina to produce specified amounts of the power they sell from renewable resources.

Precedents Rankin argued that the commission had in previous rulings declared that organic materials qualify as a renewable resource. Under those precedents, she said, yard waste would qualify.

ReVenture also is seeking related declaratory rulings, and Rankin recommended that they all be adopted.

The commission has not determined yet whether it will hold full hearings on the ReVenture request. The commission can rule based simply on written submissions and the information presented at this week’s staff conference

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