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MLI methane energy park receives permit

01/24/2008

By Kara Herlihy

The Moretown Landfill was granted a building permit by the Moretown Development Review Board (DRB) for their proposed gas to Energy Park. If all goes to plan, the park will be up and running by summer 2008.

The multi-million-dollar project will be funded by the Pennsylvania Power and Light Corporation which will build the project and then sell the energy to power companies. The project will utilize methane gas from three of the landfill's four cells to generate enough power for 2,500 homes for a projected 15 years.

Moretown Landfill representative Tom Badowski was present at the January 21 meeting of the Moretown Select Board along with several other interested parties and representatives from partnered corporation, Pennsylvania Power and Light (PPL), to ask for a letter of support from the board.

The estimated 8,000-square-foot site will house a methane gas collection system as well as a methane-to-energy production facility with "critical grade mufflers" and hoods to prevent excessive noise.

Power will be transformed to a higher voltage and delivered only within electric lines.

The system will be run by two 20-cylinder engines (approximately 3,200 kilowatts of power generated, enough to run 2,500 homes) with room for a third to power the operation. The new proposed equipment will actually be quieter than the current system, according to Badowski, and will not contribute to any harmful emissions.

The methane gas extracted as a part of the renewable energy project will not last forever; therefore, the project must come with a decommissioning plan for approval by regulatory boards, including the Department of Energy and Commerce.

"Landfill gas is generated during the natural process of decomposition of organic material contained in landfills. Landfill gas is composed of about 50 percent methane and 50 percent carbon dioxide and water vapor," according to PPL.

PPL also added, "The existing flare will continue to operate when the amount of gas collected by the landfill's gas collection system exceeds the amount of gas used in the engines and when the engines are not operating."

There is no way for excessive gas to be saved or stored, but PPL representatives said, "If it's made, it's used."

The project also needs a State of Vermont air quality permit and a federal permit from the Department of Energy and Commerce.

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