Lowell to biodigester: Stop stink by Nov. 1

Foul odor has been coming from waste-to-energy plant for months

The Lowell Energy AD biodigester. (Aug. 22, 2016)
The Lowell Energy AD biodigester. (Aug. 22, 2016)

LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — Lowell’s Board of Light & Power on Thursday said that the biodigester in the city has until Nov. 1 to get rid of a rank odor or it must shut down completely.

“My job is to protect the citizens, so if it smells when it’s all done, it has to be shut down,” Mayor Jeff Altoft said.

The biodigester turns food and animal waste into energy, which is then sold to Lowell Light & Power.

“It was sort of sold to us one way and it ended up being another,” Altoft said following Thursday’s special meeting of the Board of Light & Power at which the deadline was set.

For months, residents have been complaining about

The obnoxious smell coming from the plant has plagued the city for months, with residents saying that it ruined their summers, kept some diners from eating outside at restaurants and led to lots of bad headlines about Lowell. The agency that runs the plant, Lowell Energy AD, has already racked up hundreds of dollars in fines because of the odor.

Last week, the biodigester’s operations were curtailed pending a fix. A new filter meant to stop the stink was delivered earlier this week. Despite that, the stench remained Thursday night.

Greg Northrup, the general manager of the plant, said he’s confident the company’s solutions will work.

“We’re convinced that we are going to take action to eliminate detectable odor and that residents won’t have to deal with that issue,” he said.

When asked if the plant will shut down in the event that the fixes fail, Northrup replied, “Well, right now my passion is about getting it fixed and that’s what we’re going to do and we’ve started doing that as of Monday.”

Due to Lowell Energy AD’s contract, the plant must approve the deadline date. The plant’s attorney says he expects they’ll agree to it.

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