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Company Aims To Create Renewable Electricity…From Poop!

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Workers clear sewerage contaminated sludge in the Brisbane suburb of Fairfield on January 16, 2011. In Florida, one group wants to turn waste to energy. (credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Workers clear sewerage contaminated sludge in the Brisbane suburb of Fairfield on January 16, 2011. In Florida, one group wants to turn waste to energy. (credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

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POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (CBS Tampa) — Believe in the power of poop. It’s an initiative being pushed by one South Florida energy company, which is now on the edge of being approved in Fort Lauderdale to help generate home electricity.

Power Green Energy, a Pompano Beach start-up hoping to turn sludge from waste-water treatment plants into renewable electricity for the state, is awaiting word today from the Fort Lauderdale City Commission to approve a rezoning request that would implement the system by the middle of next year.  The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that the company has received the City Commission’s tentative approval to initiate operations that would feed into Florida Power & Light Co.’s power-lines by mid-2012.

“To be able offset energy use for waste-water facilities with renewable energy or renewable gas from the very waste going into the facility in the first place is the optimum solution,” Patrick Serfass, executive director for the American Biogas Council in Washington, told CBS Tampa.

The proposed initiative is another step toward creating additional energy sources for the state, its tentative goal projected at 4 megawatts of electricity, or about 1,000-plus homes powered by the waste-to-energy plan. Currently, similar examples are also taking place in North Carolina and Wisconsin.

“This is taking a negative and turning it into a positive for our environment,” PGE Co-Owner Amie Silverman said to the Sun-Sentinel.

One of the important ideas behind PGE’s waste-to-energy plan stems from the idea of it all, anaerobic digestion. Through this, class-B biosolids from a wastewater facility, containing pathogens and bacteria, are processed through a digester, a vessel used for breaking down biodegradable material. Once the biosolids have gone through the process, they are upgraded to class-A biosolids, free of pathogens, bacteria, and viruses.

Though the digestate system has been in place for some time now, the PGE program signals an enhanced need for greater usage, sharpening the state’s focus on how to grow alternative energy.

“Digesters need regularity,” Serfass said. “They need businesses generating organic waste to basically enter into a contract to allow someone to come by and regularly pick up waste.”

Calls made to the Fort Lauderdale City Commission were not immediately returned.

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