SIDNEY — Shelby County is just three months away from having the most technically advanced, small, recycling center in Ohio, if not the nation.
A community development grant from the Environmental Protection Agency and matching funds from the North Central Ohio Solid Waste Management District (NCOSWMD) have purchased solar modules and an eddy current separator that, when installed, will make the Shelby County Recycling Center a state-of-the-art facility.
The funds totaled $273,800. The separator is already onsite; although not yet functioning. The 161 solar modules are due to arrive as soon as weather permits. They will be installed on the roof of the recylcing center at 1600 Riverside Drive.
“The solar panels have to be in place by May 31,” said Shelby County Commissioner Tony Bornhorst.
The system has been designed to produce 55,000 kilowatts of electricity annually.
The NCOSWMD operates the Shelby County center under contract with the Shelby County commissioners. GT Environmental Inc. assists the agency with grant-writing and is overseeing the local project.
“On the annual average, the solar system should supply half the demand of the electric equipment inside the building,” said Jim Skora, senior manager of GT Environmental. “In the summer, (the system) will produce more than they need.”
“When it’s full, sunny days, we’ll put a little juice back on the grid,” Bornhorst said.
The electric grid for all of the United States is connected, he explained. For the most part, demand and production equal each other.
“When solar rays produce more energy than what’s used, electric meters will run backwards,” he said. When that happens, the recycling center will be charged less.
“The solar rays will be reducing the amount of energy (the center) needs to purchase,” Skora said. A smart TV connection, which will be part of the system, will allow staff to track usage and see real-time performance of the system.
The separator will pull aluminum from the flow of recyclables that go into the center. It will permit what is known as single-stream recycling. Residents will be able to put all their recylcables into one bin or trash receptacle instead of separating paper and fiber from glass or aluminum containers. The separation will be done at the recycling center instead.
“It’s easier on the resident but more complicated for the plant,” Skora said, noting that the process to single-stream recycling has been in the works for some time.
“We knew five years ago we’d be heading that way,” added Jack DeWitt, NCOSWMD operations director. “We had to modify the solid waste plan, anticipating that all cities were going from multi-stream or dual-stream to single. It’s taken a lot of planning and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Skora hopes to have a grand reopening of the center when the project is complete.
“We want to celebrate the investment that made the facility technologically efficient,” he said. “We’re the first to get any kind of money from the state program for this kind of project.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.