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Board of Supervisors delays approval of compost-to-electricity converter

Bree Zender

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to delay approval to build an anaerobic digester -- which would turn methane emitted from composted food into energy to power homes in the area.

This technology originated in Europe. The digester, which is set to be built near the San Luis Obispo airport on Santa Fe Road, will be the first built on US soil.

Supervisor Adam Hill said that many people around the area were unaware of the plans to build the digester, and have concerns about potential smell and noise.

"It's the kind of project that hasn't even been used in our country yet. So I think there tends to be a little bit of fear associated with it," Hill said. "We want to be able to, as best as we can, address some of that."

Hill said studies of the digesters in Europe say that smell and noise were not a problem for them.

"This is a contained system, a closed system," he said.

The food that is collected from green bin food waste recycling programs in the county are currently being shipped to ferment in Santa Maria.

Plans to build the digester were originally set to begin in early November.  It has now been delayed until after the final approval by the board on November 15.

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