Backers make the case for €190 million Gortadroma deal

Aughinish Aerialsby Alan Jacques

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THE US company behind a multi-million euro energy generation project at the former Gortadroma landfill site promise that if the proposal gets the green light that not only will they meet European environmental standards but exceed them “many times over”.

The joint bid for the lease on the Ballyhahill site to develop a gasification plant and create an estimated 120 new jobs comes from Cadence Infrastructure LLC and EnvironPower Management Incorporated.

This Tuesday morning, Keith Hulbert and Leonardo Riera of Cadence EnvironPower (CEP) gave a presentation to councillors in the Adare-Rathkeale municipal district, which was described by Cllr Kevin Sheahan as a “strong sales pitch”.

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Estimated to be worth €190 million over 30 years, CEP will pay Limerick City and County Council a lump sum of €50,000 on the signing of the lease agreement for the landfill. On receipt of all necessary consents and closure of their debt financing, they will then pay the local authority a further lump sum of €4 million.

CEP are proposing to convert 365,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste on an annual basis into syngas at the Gortadroma site if their bid for the landfill lease is successful.

Gasification converts sustainable feed stocks such as biomass or waste into electricity and is said to generate 100 times less emissions than incineration.

Mr Hulbert, who has more than 25 years experience in the power industry, told councillors that this  “technology is the future”. He also revealed that one of the reasons they were keen on the West Limerick landfill site was down to the fact that Ireland is a “great place to do business”.

“Ireland was very attractive to our core investors. It has an educated and motivated workforce and the government acts as a partner not an adversary. After several visits it became apparent that this was one of the best sites of all,” Mr Hulbert revealed.

“We are happy to meet with the local community. I’ve never been involved in a power plant that wasn’t part of their community,” he added.

His business partner Leonardo Riera, who has 30 years experience as a CEO, investment banker and strategic consultant, described CEP as “family people”.

“It is our every intention to keep creating green power for many decades and we are looking forward to having close relationships with you,” he told local councillors.

Cllr Emmett O’Brien urged his fellow councillors to “keep an open mind” on the project.

“It has potential. It’s still in its infancy. We should consider all the options,” said the independent councillor.

Fine Gael councillor Stephen Keary said he was “impressed” by the presentation and suggested that the Council further explores the pros and cons.

Limerick City and County Council’s district director for Adare-Rathkeale, Tom Gilligan, said there was still “hurdles to clear”, but maintained that it was now important to follow this bid through to its “ultimate conclusion”.

“There will be no delays on our side. It is a priority now to look at all aspects of the lease agreement,” he concluded.