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Congressman And State Senator Visit Proposed Alternative Energy Site
Business Claims PG&E Throwing Up Roadblocks
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State Senator Berryhill and Congressman Denham listen to Phoenix Energy CEO Greg Stangl (far right) about the barriers Central Valley Ag Grinding of Oakdale and Phoenix Energy are having with PG&E for installation of a clean energy power plant at the facility. RICHARD PALOMA/ THE LEADER

Responding to the outskirts of Oakdale for concerns of an agricultural business pursuing green energy, Congressman Jeff Denham and State Senator Tom Berryhill met with the owners and employees to better understand their energy conversion process and hear their frustrations with PG&E. When they were done, the elected officials assured company representatives they would do what they could on the state and federal levels.

Central Valley Ag Grinding, a privately owned business on Langworth Road, specializes in recycling wood, fruit, food by-product, and agricultural tree nut related products and converting them to other uses such as landscaping products, dairy feed, and everyday household products such as wood pellets. The company is in a heated dispute with PG&E to convert their biomass byproduct into energy to run their plant and have excess power sold back to PG&E far below market value.

Phoenix Energy of San Francisco was contracted by Central Valley Ag Grinding to have a self-sufficient bio-fueled power plant on the facility that generated the byproducts into “clean” electricity. The hold-up now for both companies is PG&E’s unwillingness to abide by a $202,000 estimate given last year for a connection to their power lines.

Since the original estimate, PG&E has given different variations of the cost for a “direct transfer trip” that have gotten as high as $1.7 million. The latest was down to $856,000 by the power conglomerate.

“Our financing boat has already sailed,” explained Central Valley Ag Grinding CFO Ryan Hogan to Denham and Berryhill at the proposed construction site of the facility’s partially completed power plant. “We had committed to this project and we’re now well into a completed module.”

Phoenix Energy CEO Greg Stangl told the gathered elected representatives and staff members that meetings with PG&E engineers and Phoenix engineers as late as last week had determined that the excess costs now proposed by PG&E were not needed, however on Monday PG&E officials went against the latest agreement.

“We had a good faith number over a year ago,” said Stangl. “It’s all about connecting to the grids. This is not a 50 megawatt facility.”

The plant is expected to only generate 1 megawatt of electricity.

“Their own (PG&E) engineers told them what was needed two years ago,” said Central Valley Ag Grinding co-owner Paul Zonzen. “What changed in the last two years?”

PG&E had not returned calls as of Thursday, Oct. 18.

For the entire story, read the Oct. 24 edition of The Leader.