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FAIRBANKS — Back bounded agent Bernie Karl aboriginal launched his aggressive abstraction to about-face decay agenda into electricity added than two years ago, the abstraction seemed like a absolute plan for a association fatigued for both a recycling affairs and bargain power.

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Today, things aren’t actually alive out the way Karl had hoped.

The beginning biomass-burning architect at K&K Recycling is actually authoritative electricity out of garbage, as apparent by the bankrupt aerobatics out of the aerial automated on the acreage forth the Richardson Highway. However, annihilation about the activity has been easy, Karl said.

“There is no d book. There is no blueprint,” he said. “We’re authoritative it up as we go.”

The activity is costing added and breeding beneath acquirement than he figured. It doesn’t accomplish as abundant electricity as planners had expected. Karl’s dreams of application the generators as a bargain ability antecedent for rural Alaska villages accept been abandoned.

Karl said he affairs to advance advanced with the about $6 actor project, admitting ascent debt and endless challenges.

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“Failure is if you don’t try,” Karl said. “We’re never activity to quit.”

Big dreams accommodated reality

The plan to transform Fairbanks’ decay agenda into electricity began in backward 2010. A new recycling program, launched by Karl’s K&K Recycling, calm items like alloyed paper, artificial and bottle from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and breadth aggressive installations.

The paper, which is disconnected and formed into ample pellets, is the feedstock for a alternation of biomass-burning generators. The action meets federal emissions standards, and Karl said best of the actual departure his automated is baptize vapor.

The bearing system, however, uses technology that charcoal experimental. A business partner, United Technologies, developed the generators with Karl. The aftereffect was accepted to appear by affairs electricity to Golden Valley Electric Association.

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With a about $2 actor admission from the Alaska Energy Authority, Karl accomplished a 20-year accord with GVEA to advertise electricity to the account at a bulk a half-cent lower than its abhorred costs.

Getting the new arrangement to alive up to its abeyant has been the key claiming — its real-world achievement isn’t analogous its projected output. Karl said the generators provided ability at about 38 percent of his ambition in 2012, and alone three of its bristles units accept been accursed up while he abstracts out how to advance the system. Connecticut-based United Technologies has stepped aback to focus on added projects, Karl said, abrogation him to assignment through a annoying action of re-engineering its assorted components.

The three generators are authoritative about 270 kilowatts, beneath than the 375 application that he projected advanced of time. After a year of operation, Karl has assured that the generators are artlessly too complicated to be acclimated for one of his antecedent goals — powering alien villages application debris and biomass.

“It’s too technical. It’s too new,” Karl said. “But that’s why you do these kinds of projects — to acquisition out what works and what doesn’t.”

Karl abstracts he’s spending $100,000 per ages on the project, while breeding little revenue. He wasn’t specific about how abundant he’s fabricated so far by affairs electricity to GVEA, but said it’s not about abundant to awning his expenses.

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“Minuscule is the appropriate word,” he said.

GVEA won’t acknowledge the bulk of ability it has accustomed from the operation in the accomplished year, citation its aloofness action for producers and consumers. But Dave Gardner, carnality admiral of affiliate and business services, said the breeze has been sporadic.

That, he said, is no surprise. GVEA knew up advanced that Karl was application beginning technology and never accepted a constant antecedent of electricity. Gardner said an acclimation aeon was anticipated.

“If it would accept formed altogether on day one, everyone’s aperture would accept dropped,” he said. “There’s actually annihilation abnormal about that.”

Remaining optimistic

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Despite the challenges, Karl is artlessly optimistic about the approaching of his operation.

He additionally owns Chena Hot Springs Resort, which is powered by harnessing geothermal assets to accomplish electricity. Abundant of that technology additionally was ambiguous back it was installed, and Karl hopes his affairs for electric bearing chase a agnate path.

While he works the bugs out of his bearing system, Karl is hopeful he can acquisition added sources of revenue.

Later this month, K&K Recycling affairs to activate authoritative concrete, application capacity that accommodate decay ash from the electric generators and arena bottle from recycled bottles. He wants to bazaar larger, brick-sized pellets as broiler logs. Karl additionally hopes to argue the Fairbanks North Star Borough to pay him a allocation of its accumulation for befitting abstracts out the landfill.

K&K Recycling has calm 9.1 actor pounds of recyclables back August 2010, and Karl said he burns as abundant as 14 bags of pellets fabricated from recycled agenda anniversary day. Karl gestures at a abundance of agenda and paper, which takes up bisected of a 60-by-60-foot warehouse. It’s alone a blip, he said, for his avid system.

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“I’ll go through that like Sherman went through Atlanta,” Karl said. “This is not activity to booty long.”

By the end of 2013, Karl vows, abundant acquirement streams will appear calm to accomplish it all work. Back it does, he’s assured that two years’ account of accomplishment will be account it, both in agreement of addition and profit.

“I’m not brainless — I do accept a plan,” he said, pointing to a whiteboard jotted with numbers. “But I’ve paid one hell of an access fee to get here.”

Contact agents biographer Jeff Richardson at 459-7518. Chase him on Twitter: @FDNMbusiness.

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