Kevin Barnes

Kevin Barnes

Kevin Barnes

Speaker | Provost & Pritchard Consulting Group

Bakersfield, CA |

Kevin Barnes has managed solid waste and recycling systems for over 40 years. He grew up in a family trash company, merged it with a corporate waste firm, and later managed two city waste departments. During his 25 years as the Solid Waste Director for the City of Bakersfield, he built and operated one of the largest public composting facilites in California. The facility is known for its efficiency and many advanced projects, including electrification, automation, and water conservation. In 2012, Kevin assembled a team of compost industry professionals to create a solution for the challenge of VOC emission rules in the central valley. He is now retired from public service and provides consulting services.

Session Code: D3 (& C3)

Track: California

Session Name: Meeting the Facility Challenge

Session Time: Wednesday, January 25, 4:15 – 5:45 PM

Presentation Title: Obstacles/Solutions to Capacity Building in California

Presentation Description: Parts of California regulate air emissions from composting. Regulations usually increase with population density, or as new environmental standards are established. Composting is not alone; parts of California require “new source review” to limit air emissions from all new developments.

The San Joaquin Valley, has strict composting air rules in addition to “new source review” rules. The goal is for new facilities to create no new net pollution. New compost facilities must use best available control technologies (BACT) for volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. Various control methods have been used to control over 80% of those emissions. However, if the remaining emissions exceed 20,000 pounds annually, they must be offset by reducing some other VOC emission source. Air rules include a system for all industries to bank emission reduction credits (ERCs) when they voluntarily cut emissions below allowable limits. New compost facilities of significant size typically need to purchase ERCs through brokers because compost facilities are considered a high VOC emitter.

The same is becoming more common in regions challenged by air pollution. This increases the investment required to develop new compost facility capacity. However, another higher level of challenge has emerged in Central California.  Due to a difference in methodology between the air district and the EPA, many formerly banked ERCs in Central California will no longer suffice. This creates a supply and demand imbalance for ERCs needed for new compost facility capacity. Recent experience by a few proposed facilities indicates the ERC scarcity and ten-fold market price increase have prevented them from moving forward.

Creating new capacity in this environment is daunting. Creative solutions are needed. These may include increasing VOC control efficiency, downsizing the facilities to keep emission below the ERC threshold, or paying to reduce VOCs elsewhere. Any of these have economic impacts on composting.