Sussex should court Clean Bay Renewables

July 20, 2017

We hope Sussex County hasn't seen the end of Clean Bay Renewables. The Somerset County, Md.-based firm proposed construction of facilities to convert used chicken litter into electricity and fertilizer.

Two parcels along Route 9 and Sand Hill Road on the outskirts of Georgetown were eyed.

When Sussex County Planning and Zoning recommended denial of conditional-use permits because of traffic concerns and proximity to residences, schools and recreational facilities, the company withdrew its applications. Otherwise the applications would have gone to a public hearing and final vote before Sussex County Council.

What we should be hearing about now is a state- and county-initiated effort to work with the company to find a more suitable location for the facility in Sussex. Could there be any county in the nation with a more suitable fit?

Sussex poultry farmers, in concert with Perdue, Allen Harim and Mountaire, produce more chickens than any other county in the United States. That also means these farms produce more poultry manure-laced litter than any other county in the U.S.

Environmental impacts - especially nutrient runoff into Sussex County's and Delmarva's waterways - have long been a concern. But Clean Bay Renewables wants to pull a Rumpelstiltskin and convert this straw into gold. They want to build processors that will convert components of the litter into methane gas and use that gas to fire electricity generators. What's left over would be separated into dry nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer products to be sold and shipped where there is a need.

Maryland's Department of Agriculture deemed the company's plans worthy of a $1.5 million grant that will be combined with a reported $15 million in additional investments to build a facility in Somerset County.

Rather than figuring out ways to oppose these plans, Sussex economic development officials should be working to find a suitable location where this progressive approach can be implemented for its obvious economic and environmental benefits.


  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, associate publisher.

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