Dunkirk Industrial Development Agency hears energy plan

A proposal that would help a local manufacturer with its electrical costs and management of its waste stream was presented to the Dunkirk Industrial Development Agency board of directors on Thursday.

Mark Barbera, a management member of Dunkirk Bioenergy, explained the plan would be to work with Fieldbrook Foods in the city to build a commercial anaerobic digester. The project has been in the planning stages and has received startup funding from the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency and more recently, in December, $350,000 from the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council.

Barbera explained what the company has done so far and its plans for the digester. He said where exactly the facility would be built and whether there would be easement issues with the railroad tracks in the area were still under study. He added capitalization for the project was “coming together” and he was getting positive feedback from the New York State Energy Resource and Development Authority.

Barbera said there were four pieces to the project: taking in waste, generating power, steam heat and organic sluice – an undetermined organic product which could be used as fertilizer.

As for skepticism about such a project, Barbera said people will be convinced eventually. He said the goal is to have power generated by the end of the year, create six to eight jobs and save energy expenses.

“The majority of these installations are in Europe. … It is starting to become much more popular here,” Barbera stated. “I think that once you build it … it will be for real.”

Asked about odors from the facility, Barbera said it should not be a concern if the system operates properly. He added there were thousands of these types of facilities in Europe due to a lack of space for waste and the need to generate power.

Barbera said he was not asking for help now but may need some to do a SEQR review for the project.

Dunkirk Biomass has been working in the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator.

The project was endorsed as a priority project by the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council in September under the renewable energy category. Dunkirk Bioenergy LLC filed articles of incorporation with the state in June 2011. In July 2011, the county IDA board of directors approved a five-year, $100,000 loan at 4 percent interest to provide working capital for the company.

Former City Assessor Andrew Woloszyn was the other presenter, and while Barbera wasn’t looking for financial help, Woloszyn said he eventually would look to DIDA if his efforts pan out.

Woloszyn provided details of his work and investment history before talking about his idea to purchase a Rochester-based charcoal product distributor. Woloszyn said the product is high-end and used in barbecue contests and by barbecue grill shops.

The plan would be to operate from a Brigham Road site along with keeping a small presence in Rochester. Woloszyn said if the purchase proceeds he will be back before DIDA seeking some financial assistance. He added two part-time jobs would be created initially.

Development Director and DIDA board chairman Steve Neratko explained DIDA has a $198,049 initial allocation for 2013 from Empire State Development with more available for “worthy projects.”

“The biggest thing they want to see is job creation,” he added.

The meeting included the appointment of Mayor Anthony J. Dolce as DIDA executive director and chief executive officer and Fiscal Affairs Officer Richard Halas as DIDA treasurer.

In addition, the board approved hiring Johnson, Mackowiak & Associates to perform an audit of DIDA and its subsidiaries for activities in 2012 at a cost of $1,200, $600 lower than the other response. Options for the next two years at the same price were included.

The date and time of the next meeting of the board will be announced.

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