Gas Projects Generate Winners

April 1, 2000

8 Min Read
Gas Projects Generate Winners

Shelley Cohen

Many innovative projects and partnerships thrive in the landfill gas industry. The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) highlighted seven award winning projects at a ceremony during its Third Annual Conference and Project Expo held in D.C. earlier this year.

Project of the Year (tie) * Toro Energy Inc. (Valley-Oakland Landfill/GM LFG project) Austin, Texas; and

* The County of Sacramento, Sacramento, Calif. (Kiefer LFG project)

Toro Energy Inc.'s niche is delivering landfill gas to market for sale as a medium Btu fuel, as it is in this award winner. In this project, Toro transports 3,000 mcf/day (2,100) of LFG produced from two Orion, Mich., landfills - Waste Management's Eagle Landfill, and Allied Waste System's Oakland Landfill to General Motors Corp.'s Lake Orion Assembly plant.

The economic and environmental benefits to General Motors, the landfills and the community are numerous - greater emissions reductions, less coal use and a cheaper price to power facility operations. The landfill gas is delivered to a boiler that was converted from coal fired to 100 percent gas/landfill gas fired with a low nitrous oxide (NOx) burner.

This has resulted in a double environmental benefit - the reduction of emissions from both landfills and from the factory. Using the LFG, which is enough to power up to 4,000 homes, has prevented about 60,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent from being emitted into the atmosphere. This emission reduction has the same environmental benefit as planting 61,500 acres of trees.

The second Project of the Year award was given to the county of Sacramento, Sacramento, Calif. Kiefer Landfill. Partners in the project include the County of Sacramento, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), Sacramento, Calif., and Landfill Energy Systems (LES), Wixom, Mich., a private developer. SMUD is purchasing the landfill gas to use as part of its Greenergy Program, which allows residences and businesses to choose alternative energy sources.

Neither the county nor SMUD will profit from this project, because the two cities share constituents. The county financed the construction, operations and maintenance. SMUD provided the emission reduction credits required from the local Air Quality Management District. The project then qualified for the Department of Energy's incentive payment program for renewable energy.

If funding was unavailable, SMUD also guaranteed that it would pay one half of the incentive payment. LES designed, installed and operates the landfill gas system on a performance-based contract where LES is paid on net-kw-delivered.

The project created benefits for the environment and the community. Air quality improved because the project used three Caterpillar 3616 engines, which reduce nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions by 45 percent compared with conventional engines. In addition, this project prevented the use of polluting fossil fuels. Finally, the Kiefer Landfill created local jobs constructing, designing, operating and maintaining the facility.

State Ally of the Year Award Delaware Solid Waste Authority Dover, Del. The Delaware Solid Waste Authority owns four municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills, including Pigeon Point and Cherry Hill in New Castle County, the Central Solid Waste Management Center (CSWMC) in Kent County, and the Southern Solid Waste Management Center (SSWMC) in Sussex County. All four landfills are developing LFG beneficial use projects.

Since July 1995, the Cherry Island Landfill has sent more than 3.7 billion cubic feet of medium Btu landfill gas to Connectiv Power Delivery (CPD), Dover, Del., reducing the amount of natural gas required for their boilers by more than 1.7 billion cubic feet. This beneficial project's partners include Cereza Energy, Dover, Del., and the Cherry Island Landfill Gas Co. Dover, Del.

The project has two environmental benefits. First, it prevents the landfill gas from entering the atmosphere. Second, it displaces polluting fossil fuels, which would have been used.

The Pigeon Point landfill project is a team effort between DSWA and the Bentech Group, Newport, Del., that demonstrates that a project is feasible even if the landfill is old and the gas volume is low. The site stopped receiving waste in 1985 and currently is collecting 500,000 cubic feet of landfill gas per day. In addition to providing a "green" energy source for the utility, this project is expected to reduce carbon monoxide emissions in excess of 25 tons per year.

At CSWMC, DWSA is finalizing a gas-to-electricity contract with ZAPCO Development Corp., Avon, Conn. DSWA and ZAPCO have structured a project at this rural landfill to be successful without tax credits. ZAPCO plans to install a 2 megawatt (MW) generator onsite and to provide a green energy source to a utility or direct end-user. Additionally, this project is estimated to reduce carbon monoxide emissions by more than 75 tons per year. The project is expected to go online in late 2000.

The DWSA currently is negotiating with Woodland Incineration, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada to design, build and operate a project at the SSWMC landfill that will evaporate up to 20,000 gallons of leachate per day. The project is expected to go online in early 2001 and will reduce carbon monoxide emissions by more than 100 tons per year compared with flaring the gas.

Onsite treatment will eliminate transporting the leachate 100,000 miles by truck for disposal. Finally, the evaporated leachate gases will be directed back into the gasifier for destruction of VOCs before venting.

Energy Ally of the Year Award American Municipal Power-Ohio Inc. Columbus, Ohio What if landfill sites pooled their energy and practiced distributive generation? This idea was conceived at a conference hosted by Oberlin, Ohio, an American Municipal Power-Ohio Inc. (AMP-Ohio) member community. As a result, AMP-Ohio decided to market this green power generated by landfill gas from seven Ohio landfill sites. Ironically, the company had been hesitant to invest in these types of projects because they did not seem economically feasible. Today, however, AMP-Ohio actively promotes using green power generated from landfill gas.

For its green power offering, AMP Ohio joined with the former Browning Ferris Gas Service Inc., Houston, and Energy Developments Ltd., Houston. During 1999, 33.1 MW was generated from LFG and sold to 34 AMP-Ohio member communities. This project is believed to be the first "pooling" arrangement of its kind in the United States. It involves the seven sites using distributive generation within close proximity of participating members, which keeps transmission costs low and assists in the reduction of transmission constraints that preclude the power on peak demand days. Environmentally, this project helps reduce greenhouse gases because it displaces the energy equivalent of 1,635 barrels of oil per day.

Partner of the Year Award Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development Council Sugar Grove, N.C. Blue Ridge RC&D is a non-profit organization serving seven rural communities in the western North Carolina mountains. The group works with its communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provides sustainable economic development opportunities.

Currently, Blue Ridge RC&D is developing three projects serving four of the seven counties. The council's first LFG project is located at the Yancey/ Mitchell County Landfill. The landfill gas from the Project Branch Out and the Blue Ridge Landfill Methane Initiative will fuel glassblowing and pottery studios, which will serve as small business incubators. Landfill gas also will be used to heat several greenhouses, where starter plants of native ornamental foliage and medicinal herbs will be grown to stock the local nursery and agricultural industry. The project is financially self-supporting.

Plans for a second LFG project are underway in Avery County. The council members plan to use energy-efficient heating in a Regional Forestry and Horticulture Center, in cooperation with Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C. and Mayland Community College, Mitchell, N.C. Construction is slated to begin in spring 2000. A third project based in Wilkes County is also in the works.

Project Branch Out shows that smaller landfill projects can produce economic, environmental and social benefits. The Yancy/Mitchell landfill and the Avery County Landfill contain approximately 1.5 million tons of waste, with a potential to generate 1.2 MW, enough to heat 894 homes. In terms of pollution reduction, this project is equivalent to removing about 21,000 cars from North Carolina's roads per year or planting 14,192 acres of trees.

Industry Ally of the Year (tie) * Enerdyne Power Systems Inc., Charlotte, N.C.; and

* Waste Management Inc., Houston

Enerdyne Power Systems (EPS) is a landfill gas system developer, co-developer, owner and operator. It has helped develop 13 projects, many of which do not receive tax credits and do not have system installation required by NSPS. EPS' success comes from forging partnerships with the public and private sectors, including: Pitt County Memorial Hospital, the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County, Catawba County, Cargil, Mallinckrodt Chemical, Northland Cranberry and Duke Power.

EPS currently is working on behalf of Horry County in Myrtle Beach, S.C., New Hanover County in Wilmington, N.C., and the city of Lynchburg, Va.

Worldwide, Waste Management Inc. (WMI) currently operates 50 electrical generating facilities that use landfill gas.

WMI's success has been achieved partially through its involvement in Bio-Energy Partners - a joint venture formed in 1986 between WMI and Caterpillar Financial Services Corp., Lafayette, Ind., to develop landfill gas- to-energy power production facilities at WMI landfills.

WMI also maintains partnerships with many landfill gas industry leaders in designing, constructing, operating and maintaining facilities.

Over the past year, WMI executed many innovative project agreements. For example, it recently signed a contract to use landfill gas to run a 22-acre greenhouse facility in South Buffalo, N.Y. The project is expected to go online in late 2000 and includes a state-of-the-art hydroponics facility to produce tomatoes, and an aquaponics facility to raise tilapia, a type of fish.

WMI also has been active in the emission's trading market has responded to several green power solicitations, and has forged other unique partnerships. One of these was with the Green Knights Economic Development Corp., Plainfield Township, Pa., a non-profit organization that was established in 1999 to develop a 10 MW landfill gas-to-energy facility, and promote economic development at WMI's Grand Central Landfill in Plainfield Township, Pa. The project currently is in the pre- permitting stage.

WMI owns and/or operates approximately 300 landfills nationwide and has identified landfills where it hopes to create additional landfill gas-to-energy projects.

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