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11/20/2008

By Kara Herlihy

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The Moretown Landfill's methane gas to energy plant may be generating energy as soon as mid December, according to landfill general manager, Tom Badowski. A test burn of the system is planned for early December.

Mad River Solid Waste Alliance representative, John Malter was present at a tri-town select board meeting November 13, and said that the methane gas recovery system could generate electrical power for 2,600 homes.

WASTE TO ENERGY

Malter added that the project "will help grow the facility for waste to energy at the end of the line and continue to give additional life to the landfill."

The 8,000 square foot site houses 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 Green Mountain Power's electric lines.

RUN 2,600 HOMES

The system will be run by two 20-cylinder engines (approximately 3,200 kilowatts of power generated, enough to run 2,600 homes) with room for a third to power the operation.

The new equipment will actually be quieter than the current system, according to Badowski, and will not contribute to any harmful emissions.

DECOMMISSIONING PLAN

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 Pennsylvania Power and Light (PPL).

CONTINUE TO OPERATE

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 that "if it's made, it's used."

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