Sunday, August 01, 2004

Fresno may lead country in energy

he way some people see it, Fresno each year loses 150,000 tons of energy-making fuel -- sewage sludge and residents' yard trimmings.

But that's not the worst part. The city pays more than $3 million to have the sludge and the green waste recycled as compost.

A private technology developer in North Carolina asks: Why not stop spending money and start using these wastes to make clean energy -- hydrogen?

"Fresno could make hydrogen to produce electricity," said Dennis McGee, founder and chief executive officer of Enviro-Tech Enterprises Inc. "You would have an energy supply that would actually improve the environment."

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a research arm of the Department of Energy, adds that Fresno could become a model for the rest of the country.

"Now is the time, and this is the place," said Bob Evans, senior scientist at the lab. "The wastewater treatment site in Fresno is a great place to do this."

The Fresno Public Works Department scheduled time Tuesday to briefly describe to the City Council a strategy to build Fresno into a national center for clean-energy technology, such as hydrogen, biogas and solar power. Enviro-Tech's ideas fit into that strategy, officials say.

"There is a universe of technologies emerging," said Martin McIntrye, Public Works director. "We're excited about putting Fresno on the map with them."


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