Project set to reclaim landfill gas for power

Officials expect a spring 2009 launch for a project at the Fulton County Landfill that will turn met

Officials expect a spring 2009 launch for a project at the Fulton County Landfill that will turn methane gas into electricity that the county can sell for profit.

The project will be built by Innovate Energy Systems. Both the county and the company are spending about $1.5 million on the power generator project, which is expected to earn at least $800,000 in annual profit that will be split evenly between the company and county.

The company’s president, Peter Zeliff Sr., said last year that he hoped the project would be up and running by this summer at the latest, but it has since been delayed by various regulatory and governmental approvals.

One key approval must come from the New York Independent System Operator, a nonprofit organization that analyzes the state electricity grid and provides approval or denial for projects based on long-term state needs.

Dennis Plaster, the general manager at Innovate Energy Systems, said he thinks NYISO is taking too long to give the approval.

“We’ve been pretty active in getting them to speed the process along,” Plaster said. “Frankly, it just doesn’t seem to be a very smooth-flowing process. We’re pressing very hard.”

NYISO spokesman Ken Klapp said he was out of the office Thursday and didn’t have any specific information on the project but added that applicants are processed in the order they apply.

The landfill project is 245th on a list of about 300 applicants waiting for approval, but Klapp couldn’t say how long it might take for approval because each project is unique.

“This is just an impact study, which determines how a facility will affect the existing grid,” Klapp said. “Our approval has more to do with physically connecting with the existing grid and whether modifications would have to be made with the grid.”

National Grid also has to determine where the county can hook into the existing grid, according to county Solid Waste Department Director Jeff Bouchard.

“We have the area that we think will be the location and we’re ready to go, but we need to hear from them that that’s the power line that we’ll be tapping into,” Bouchard said.

Once the project is up and running, the county and company will sell energy to National Grid. The county could also negotiate with National Grid to purchase electricity back for use at the landfill at a lower rate.

Landfill gas is extracted from waste using a series of wells and blowers, according to Innovate Energy Systems’ Web site.

The gas is then filtered to remove water and other material that could harm the power generation system before it is burned to power the generator.

“Although landfill gas combustion produces some carbon dioxide, the impact of these emissions on global climate change is offset many times over by the methane emission reductions,” according to the Web site.

The company estimates that the gas project will capture 60 to 90 percent of methane in landfill waste.

Profits from the sale of the electricity will be added to landfill revenues and will help keep fees there low, according to county Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael Rooney.

“That’s how we’re keeping our rates low in Fulton County, by utilizing every avenue we can,” Bouchard said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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