August 14, 2008

Plans Modified On Conestoga Landfill Gas-To-Energy Project

By Tim Mekeel

The state has approved changes to a project that will turn Conestoga Landfill gas into energy for seven eastern Lancaster County businesses.

The project, costing more than $10 million and under construction since November, is expected to become operational this fall.

"It's fun to have such a successful environmental project nearing completion," said Joel Zylstra, president and chief operating officer of Granger Energy, the project developer.

Under the modifications, a processing plant to compress, dry and filter methane generated by decomposing waste at the Berks County landfill will not be located there.

Rather, because of the plant's size, project developer Granger Energy needed to put the processing plant on a 27-acre site it has acquired next to the landfill in New Morgan.

In a second change, Granger formally agreed not to include an older, smaller kind of electrical generating unit, to be powered by the landfill gas, at the plant or landfill.

That unit, expected to produce 600 kilowatt hours a year, was part of the original 2006 design but later was dropped in favor of piping all of the gas to industry.

Berks County had opposed the unit, saying it would emit too much air pollution.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said Monday it has approved the revisions.

Construction includes a nine-mile pipeline to take the methane to an existing pipeline that moves gas collected at the Lanchester Landfill.

With the new gas, the pipeline will add four customers - Tyson Foods, New Holland Concrete, Case New Holland and H.R. Ewell. Any surplus will go to three existing customers - Dart Container, L&S Sweeteners and Advanced Food Products.

Partners in the project are UGI Utilities, which is building the new section of pipeline and will operate and maintain it, and Conestoga owners and operators Allied Waste.

The Conestoga pipeline will carry 7,500 to 8,000 cubic feet per minute of methane, more than twice the 3,500 cubic feet per minute that comes out of Lanchester.

Zylstra noted that the projects take a product that landfills typically burn, to get rid of it, and turn it into a renewable energy source that's cheaper than fossil fuels.

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