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Horse Power

LO Hunt looks to harness the power of poop
by: vern uyetake Today, Lake Oswego Hunt employees shovel an average ton of horse manure each day into a steel container, which the hunt club pays thousands to have hauled away over the course of the year. But the nonprofit equestrian center hopes to eventually host a plant on the site that would convert horse waste into energy.

It's horse power of a different sort.

As Lake Oswego Hunt re-envisions its future, club leaders say they see great potential in harnessing the power of horse manure.

The proposed 'equinergy' project would convert horse droppings and other stable waste into renewable energy.

With an average horse producing about 50 pounds of manure per day, the equestrian facility has an ample supply of raw material for the process: About 2,000 pounds each day, or 365 tons each year.

A private group would run the operation at the hunt club, at the base of Iron Mountain.

Janice Weis, president of the Lake Oswego Hunt Board of Directors, said the project isn't a sure thing, but early discussions indicate that city officials are open to the idea.

'We are excited about this project not only for its cost savings to us, but also to be part of a pilot project in renewable, green energy sources,' she said, noting the city could likely recycle its 'green waste' at the site, too.

It's unclear how much energy the horse-fueled plant could produce or how much space it would require, but in addition to saving $26,000 a year now paid to haul away manure, the hunt club could even make some money by sharing in profits from the sale of electricity or 'green' renewable energy and carbon-offset credits.

The hunt club proposal is among a handful of projects considered 'quality renewable energy projects' in the area, said Garrett Smith, a professional mechanical engineer at Cogentech Inc., hired by Clackamas County to identify and design such endeavors.

Installation of the plant is estimated to cost $2.1 million, although the project could be eligible for tax credits. It would also generate income, with as much as $205,000 in annual profits.

Even so, Smith said by email, securing investors could be a challenge. 'Lack of funding represents 99.99 percent of the roadblock to implementation,' he wrote.

But overall he feels positively about the equine effort's prospects.

'I do not envision any challenges in getting a project like this built based on my professional experience of doing over 100 similar projects over the past 25 years,' Smith said.