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Landfill benefits from new electricity generator at energy plant

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RODMAN — The Development Authority of the North Country’s landfill in Rodman is now converting more of the methane gas emitted from it into energy, thanks to a fourth generator activated at the on-site gas-to-energy plant in May.

The $1 million generator was installed by Innovative Energy Systems to make use of the excess methane gas produced by decomposed trash at the landfill. The generator can burn 500 cubic feet of gas per minute and produce 1,600 kilowatts of electricity per hour.

Innovative Energy Systems, which partners with DANC to convert methane gas at the landfill, is owned by EIF Renewable Energy Holdings of Sacramento, Calif.

Peter H. Zeliff Jr., the plant’s director of operations, said the facility was built to house four generators but the company waited until the landfill produced enough methane gas to warrant its construction. Thanks to the new generator, open flares at the plant and landfill that burn excess methane now will be used rarely.

“The landfill got to the point that it was producing more methane gas than we needed to run our generators,” he said. “The landfill was burning an additional 300 cubic feet per minute of methane gas, which we are now using to create electricity.”

Mr. Zeliff said the generator is expected to reach its full capacity of 500 cubic feet per minute by the end of the summer as the landfill finishes the construction of cells 10 and 11, which will provide an additional 19 acres to house trash at the northern end of the landfill.

The generator also will be financially beneficial for DANC because it sells its electricity on the energy market.

Plus, “they don’t have to pay to operate and run the flare,” Mr. Zeliff said.

The landfill also has built a gas distribution system with 26 wells to be used to capture the methane gas at cells 10 and 11, a project that was completed in March. The gas contained in those cells will be directed by pipes to the gas-to-energy plant.

DANC spent about $398,000 to upgrade the system to be compatible with the new generator.

With the new generator online, the landfill also will reduce the amount of fugitive emissions that escape into the atmosphere, said Richard R. LeClerc, solid waste division manager.

“All of the gas is going to the generators, and the flare will be used very infrequently now,” he said. Using the flares sometimes lowers the system’s pressure to allow more gas to escape from the ground.

Residents in the town of Rodman complained about stench at the landfill while the distribution system was being built in the winter because excess gas escaped. Mr. LeClerc said the new collection system has solved that problem.

“Residents say there’s vast improvement,” he said.

Mr. LeClerc said the construction of cell 10 is almost complete, and it probably will start collecting trash next month after the project receives final certification. Cell 11 is slated to be completed by the end of the summer.

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