A waste-to-energy workshop was held in the Caliente City Council Chambers last Wednesday. Jim VanNatta from Vortex Power Inc. gave a presentation on a possible facility that could be built in Antelope Canyon, with the possibility of dozens of new jobs. However, concerns remain.

About 20 people attended the workshop. VanNatta said he is talking to the BLM about gathering juniper and undergrowth from public land, which he said would help with watershed and wildland fires and improve grazing on the land. The material would be taken to a “ThermoMAX” facility proposed to be located at Antelope Canyon off Highway 93 in Caliente.

The facility would be made up of two primary buildings and would be next to a power substation operated by Lincoln County Power District. The facility would incinerate the waste material, producing energy that could be fed into the local power grid. It can dispose of other types of waste as well.

VanNatta said that the ThermoMAX system would not put off odors or harmful emissions. He added that up to 18 new private sector employees would be needed in the Antelope Canyon facility and six to eight for collection and transportation of the material. There would also be jobs at the industrial park, where they plan to build a facility to make the ThermoMAX units and ship them out.

VanNatta said any construction would be under the eyes of the EPA authorities as well as local inspectors.

Jerry Carter stated that he wanted it on the record that VanNatta would not derate, which means to lower the rated capability of the system because of deterioration. VanNatta said he would not derate.

There were questions about harmful toxic material brought into the area and the amount of emissions that would be put in the air. People in the Highland Knolls area asked if he would live in that area with the wind direction. VanNatta said he would and plans to move his family here as well as his brother.

Concerns were also voiced about the wear and tear on the highways with trucks coming in, plus the storage of materials such as tires and lumber on site. Medical waste was also a concern. Someone asked what would happen if after a few years this didn’t work out, who would be left with the clean up. VanNatta said he was willing to have a contract that holds his company responsible for all cleanup. He said he wants the community to be aware of every step of the process and wants to have more meetings in the future.

This would be the first ThermoMAX facility in the United States, which also raised concerns with some attending.

In December, the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners approved on a 3-2 vote to move forward in the process for creating a 318 taxable district in relation to the project. Public hearings and meetings will be needed before the language of an ordinance can be crafted, and concerns remain whether Industrial Revenue Bonds that would fund the project would possibly leave the county liable for any long-term obligations if the waste-to-energy project failed. VanNatta stated the county would not be liable.