Waste-to-energy company answers resident, council questions on business
Sobe Energy Solutions explaining the waste-to-energy process to Youngstown's Board of Public Utilities and curious residents Thursday. If approved by the EPA, the Dublin based company will set up in Youngstown and Lowellville to use waste, plastics and tires to create gas and electricity.
"We're going to get those approvals from the EPA," said David Ferro, SOBE Thermal Energy Systems. "We are quite certain of the fact we are well below the EPA tolerance."
In 2021, SOBE was approved by the PUCO to purchase Youngstown Thermal in Downtown Youngstown and its CEO met with the committee.
Ferro told 21 News' Chris Cerenelli that the facility would not burn, but indirectly heat things like tires, railroad ties and plastics, which would create a synthetic gas to use in process heating, gas turbines or reciprocating engines to make electricity.
"There has to be profit," said David Ferro, CEO of Sobe Energy Solutions. "But there has to be people and planning. There has to be a benefit to society, job creation and a good quality of life."
"We have the data to prove it and once we're operational we're going to make at least some of that emissions data to the public," Ferro said.
The facility creates 30 jobs in Youngstown and 20 in Lowellville.
Lowellville's location will be used to convert items to a commodity and the burning of gas will happen in Youngstown. The plant would generate an amount of carbon black waste. Ferro added this process is cleaner than burning natural gas because the manufacturing continuously runs and they don't use BT content or toxic material.
Ferro has already applied for air permits.
The press release said "more research is needed before allowing this type of industrial operation to locate within blocks of our revitalized downtown, near new
Youngstown State apartments, a theater group venue, minority residences, facilities for the differently-abled, the prison and the fire station."
Ferro also says there's no hazardous waste removal, no importing energy to run the facility, and that emissions are clean controllable to less than EPA requirements.
The facility would operate continuously and wouldn't rely on government subsidies.
Residents spoke their concerns on the safety of the facility but Ferro was able to answer questions as to why the facility is safe.
"They want a quick answer, a quick response, or they just won't believe," Ferro told 21 News after the meeting. "And so we have to have parties on both sides that are willing to do the work. This is an educational process and this is change. Any time you have that, we will have to sit down, walk it through and talk it through. We are very open to sharing the data but we have a long way to go."
"Residents have the right to be asking these questions," Ferro said. "We are welcome to them and we'll get through them one at a time. We want the community to join in our excitement."
Some Youngstown residents asked for more specific data on the facility.
Ferro told 21 News they hope to be up and running with their conversion technology this time next year.