Mayor Chris Beutler and Kevin Wailes, Administrator and CEO of the Lincoln Electric System (LES), today signed a historic agreement to sell the City's landfill gas to LES to generate electricity. LES will pay the City about $300,000 the first year to purchase 300,000 MMBtu (one million British Thermal Units) of landfill gas from the Bluff Road Landfill.
"This natural gas is produced right here in our own backyard, and electricity generated from this source of energy will be directly used in households and business across the City," Mayor Beutler said. "It is already estimated the volume of gas from the landfill will be able to serve the annual energy needs of over 2,400 households – significantly helping to ease long-term costs for energy."
The City has been working on the project since April 2008 when it solicited bids to evaluate the feasibility of capturing landfill gas produced naturally by the decomposition of waste. Drilling for the 54 wells began November 8, 2011, and the gas now travels through a system of pipes to a facility where it is burned off in a "flare" to prevent it from reaching the atmosphere. This phase of the project cost about $2.2 million and was funded through fees paid by landfill users.
LES will invest about $6.4 million for gas cleaning and compressing equipment, a gas pipeline and electric generating equipment. LES is evaluating two locations to determine the most efficient and economical site for the generation facility. The two options being discussed are at the landfill or about one mile east of the landfill at LES's Terry Bundy Generating Station.
"LES is pleased to be a part of this local, renewable resource project," said Wailes. "Taking part in this project will not only reduce the carbon footprint of the entire community, but also expands the portfolio of renewable resources LES uses to meet our customers future needs."
According to the agreement, the price of the landfill gas will increase by 3 percent a year. The term of the agreement is 20 years, with an option to extend the agreement for 15 years.
The Environmental Protection Agency says methane is over 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Landfill gas is about 40 to 60 percent methane, with the remainder being mostly carbon dioxide. The landfill gas was previously released through vents. It is estimated that the amount of carbon emissions reduced by capturing the methane and using it for electricity is equivalent to the annual emissions from about 24,000 cars.
Mayor Beutler praised the leadership, vigilance, and creativity of LES and the City Public Works and Utilities Department. "By using landfill gas for electrical power, Lincoln is also joining the ranks of those cities that are proactively working to lower our carbon emissions," he said. "This project is an example of acting to make our environment cleaner without waiting for federal or state mandates."