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Nature's Methane To Explain West Louisville Plans At Community Meetings

A company that wants to turn some of Louisville's food waste into methane gas will hold more community meetings in the city, weeks after a backlash prompted one partner to cancel plans for a facility in West Louisville.

Mayor Greg Fischer’s office said Monday it is hopeful more community support will come once the Indiana-based company Nature's Methane explains new technology proposed for parts of West Louisville.

Seed Capital Kentucky, the nonprofit developer of the FoodPort in the Russell neighborhood, had plans to partner with Nature’s Methane to have an anaerobic digester plant at the FoodPort.

But earlier this month, Seed Capital Kentucky canceled the plan following criticism from community members at a public meeting held by city officials and Nature's Methane. The meeting was aimed at answering questions about the projects, but most of the residents expressed opposition to the plans.

Opposition to the plants has been led largely by Democratic Metro Councilwoman Mary Woolridge, who has said the plants would be counterproductive to efforts to reduce pollution and the number of industrial sites in the area.

Anaerobic digester tanks are about three stories tall and turn food waste into methane gas.

Many residents in West Louisville expressed concerns about the plants ranging from odors to traffic created by trucking food waste into their neighborhoods.

“We felt that good neighbors listen and for that reason we have taken it out of our current plans,” Stephen Reily of Seed Capital Kentucky told WFPL earlier this month.

Nature’s Methane still plans to move forward with plans for the other site at 17th and Maple streets. According to Fischer’s office, the company will spend the next two months listening to residents and addressing concerns before seeking formal approval of the project.

“We are committed to answering questions, addressing concerns and showing how we are a different kind of corporate neighbor,” said Steve Estes, CEO of Star Energy Holdings, the parent company of Nature’s Methane.

One of the plans for the site at 17th and Maple streets is to turn the corn mash waste from the Heaven Hill distillery into natural gas.

Chris Poynter, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, said allowing Nature's Methane to explain how these proposed plants work will help ease some of the concerns.

“People of West Louisville have historically suffered from environmental problems that have been created in the past and those are valid and absolute real concerns,” he said.

But Poynter said he thinks once people know more about how these plants work there will be more support.

“I think it’s natural for people to ask questions and it’s natural to be concerned about a technology that is not really widely deployed in our community at this time,” he said. “Although it has been deployed in other parts of the country for years.”

Star Energy plans to invest as much as $40 million in the green energy facility.