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Metro narrows down list of processers to firms proposing to build in Portland and Wilsonville

COURTESY OF METRO - Food scraps collected in the Portland area could be recycled and turned into energy at two projects being considered by Metro in Portland and Wilsonville. The Portland area is in line to get its first plant that recycles food scraps by converts it into energy, either in the city of Portland or in Wilsonville.

Metro, which received seven proposals this summer to build such a plant, has narrowed the contenders down to two: Waste Management of Oregon Inc. and SORT Bioenergy LLC, according to Ken Ray, Metro spokesman for solid waste matters.

Both proposals rely on anaerobic digesters, which deploy bacteria to break down organic waste stowed in enclosed airless structures, which helps turn the food scraps into biogas. The biogas can be used for vehicle fuel or other forms of energy, or converted to electricity.

Waste Management, the nation's largest solid waste company, is teaming with the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services on a project that would enhance energy production at the city's sewer plant, the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant. That plant already is being designed to convert sewage into biogas. Waste Management's technology produces a bio-slurry from food waste that boosts the amount of energy produced.

SORT proposes an anaerobic digester next to the Willamette Resources garbage transfer center in Wilsonville.

An evaluation team reviewed the seven proposals and those two rose to the top, and were "essentially tied," Ray says. Metro will interview representatives from the two firms in mid-November to determine a preferred contractor.

Metro staff hope to negotiate contract terms in January and then submit the proposed contract for approval by the elected Metro Council in late February.

Currently, some of the Portland area's food scraps, such as that recycled by restaurants and grocery stores, goes to the JCB Partners LLC anaerobic digester in Junction City, in Lane County. That's the only similar operating facility in the state.

Metro is seeking to reduce shipment costs by locating a new facility closer to where the food scraps are derived.

As it seeks a commercial anerobic digester, Metro is planning a series of new mandates requiring people and institutions to recycle food scraps, to assure a steady supply of raw material for the plant.

Reach Steve Law at 971-204-7866, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or twitter.com/SteveLawTrib

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