Has Lowell biodigester finally passed smell test?

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


LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — The unusually warm November day allowed Lowell resident Pam Krzysik a chance to do something she hasn’t done all summer: open her windows.

“I smell absolutely nothing and it’s fantastic,” said Krzysik, who is among the dozens of residents who have had to put up with the foul smell coming from the waste-to-energy plant.

After a number of attempts to cure the problem and a Nov. 1 deadline to fix it for good, it appears the stink has finally stopped.

“It’s been a long haul and I’m glad to smell fresh air,” Krzysik said.

Neighbors weren’t the only ones who were frustrated by the smell, which was described as a cross between raw sewage and animal carcasses, coming from Lowell Energy AD’s facility that went online two years ago.

The plant, which converts methane from food and water waste to electricity, is meant to be a good thing.

“We’re doing something that’s really positive in the use of assets in this community. Making it local. To produce odor as we we’re doing is unacceptable,” said Greg Northrup with Lowell Energy AD.

Past attempt to fix the problem were piecemeal. A patch here, and plug there. The new system takes a different approach.

“We have enclosed the whole system, if you will, and then taken air from there as well as air from inside the building and it’s all being processed through one unit,” Northrup said. “So instead of doing it point by point, let’s do a comprehensive solution to this. And that’s what we’ve done.”

A highly sensitive monitor makes sure the carbon filter system is working.

“It’s capturing minute by minute, what is the value of the odor as it relates to clean air. As long as it always reads zero, we’re doing fine,” said Northrup as he shows the monitor connected to the filter tank.

Neighbors are concerned less about the technology, and more about whether it works.

“I am skeptical,” Krzysik said. “But I’m praying that it works.”