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IE town works to turn horse manure into power

February 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Could an Inland Empire city become the first in the nation to be powered solely by horse manure? Norco, or "Horsetown USA," is moving forward on a project that would do just that.

"It sounds bizarre, but sometimes, the most creative ideas are bizarre," said Donna Orr of Norco.

And as bizarre as it might sound, it's something that's actually be considered in Norco because when it comes to manure, one thing's for sure in this city - there's plenty of it.

All joking aside, if they did build a energy plant powered solely by manure, it would be the first in the nation.

"I really believe we're on the cutting edge of something new here that all the world is going to be looking at," said Councilman Harvey Sullivan.

Sullivan says that according to Chevron Energy Solutions, there's enough manure in his city to generate more than $2 million of energy every year.

"The technology has come so far in everything we do, and the technology as far as thermo-combustion and burning manure to produce energy has come a long way," Sullivan said.

But it's not just the money that can be made turning manure into energy. There's also the money horse owners can save by not having to pay disposal fees.

"One roll-off bin is about 23 or 24 dollars a month, and then if you have multiple horses, you have to get the big bins, and it's very expensive," said Fia Sullivan of Norco.

In fact, the city says that was the main reason they started looking at this option. They needed to find a place to take all this manure.

"We can't just till it in the ground anymore, so that's why we started looking at these options and technologies," said Harvey Sullivan said.

They're still in the planning stages, and it could be years before a manure-to-energy plant is up and running.

Still, while many cities can say they're going green, out here, it's a little different.

"Literally going green," said resident with a laugh.