The alternative energy company trying overcome opposition to build power plants in North Carolina that burn poultry waste as a fuel was fined $65,000 for pollution violations in Minnesota.
As part of an agreement announced Monday between Fibrowatt and Minnesota environmental regulators, the company will also have to install at least $80,000 in equipment to monitor emissions. Fibrowatt has been operating a turkey litter-burning power plant in Minnesota since May 2007.
The Pennsylvania-based company is proposing similar facilities in Sampson, Surry and Montgomery counties in North Carolina, but it hasn't applied for an air quality permit in this state yet.
Critics here, including the N.A.A.C.P. and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, characterize Fibrowatt's proposed power plant as an "incinerator." They say a power plant that burns animal waste will produce emissions comparable to a coal-burning power plant.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said the Fibrowatt facility experienced numerous violations, including late reports, a failed performance test, excess nitrogen oxide, excess sulfur dioxide and excess carbon monoxide.
"Unfortunately, we had a compliance issue," said Terry Walmsley, Fibrowatt's vice president of environmental affairs. "This issue is behind us."
Walmsley said the pollution violations were caused by misjudged calibrations for air flow and fuel input during the initial phase of the plant. Fibrowatt's Minneosta plant has been operating 2 1/2 years and hasn't had problems since the original violations, he said.
Fibrowatt hasn't signed a contract yet to sell power in the state. Fibrowatt had hoped to have the $150 million facilities in operation in North Carolina as early as 2011.
The plants would sell power to Duke Energy and Progress Energy to help those companies comply with the state's 2007 green energy law that requires a greater reliance on alternative fuel sources to generate electricity.