Ian Kennedy Makes Me Work Too Hard
Posted by David Keelan on Friday, January 12, 2007
Hayduke picked up on this from comments on my blog and at the HCCA list server regarding landfill methane to electricity. Not that we are far apart on this issue, but I feel complelled to provide more details in order to make my point clearer. He did this to me on tax cuts too. The tax discussion was good discussion. This one should be too.
For starters I have written about this before. Below is an excerpt.
Capture methane gas produced by Howard County landfills to convert into electricity. I think this is brilliant. The EPA has identified the Alpha Ridge landfill as a possible site for such a purpose. There are a number of successful projects around the country. Merdon sites three such projects in Prince George’s County. You can see them here.
Prince George’s produces enough electricity to provide all the electrical needs for the correctional facility, NASA, and generate over $40,000 per month in sale of excess production to the public electrical grid.
Hayduke went into more detail than I provided on the HCCA website. The links I provided were high level overviews of the potential such a project has at Alpha Ridge landfill. They were by no means conclusive. They suggest further review is in order.
Knowing that Ulman has many competing priorities I am not about to run him down for passing on methane to electricity. However, I would like him to discuss this further with other experts.
The EPA lists a number of candidate landfill sites in the State of Maryland for treatment of methane gas. Ian says that the only necessary qualificaiton for inclusion as a candidate site is the presence of a landfill. Howard County has 2 landfills and only Alpha Ridge is on the EPA list. Alpha Ridge is almost 1/2 the size of Brown Station in Prince George County which has been wildly successful in this effort. In the entire State only 9 landfills make the list. I think the EPA did more due diligence than Ian gives them credit for.
Granted the methane production is declining at Alpha Ridge and he rightly points out that a cost benefit anaylsis would be the only means of truly knowing the realistic opportunities at Alpha Ridge. Look, Prince George’s saves a lot of money ($1.2M per year) and generates revenue ($480K per year). Do we have the kind of potential? Probably not. That is all I am asking for the County to do on this. I am asking for a third opinion.
I don’t know enough about the future plans for Alpha Ridge, or another future landfill in Howard County, and I did not know that we ship trash to King George. I wonder, are we producing more trash than Alpha can handle? That could be the reason it will be closing soon – according to the EPA it will close in 2008. That could also be the reason our mmscfd are low in comparison – we don’t feed it enough trash. It could be that the mmscfd are so low after 2007 because the formula used suggests we won’t be adding trash after 2008. Can anyone verify that and tell us what we will do with our trash then? Do we have plans to build a new landfill?
A cost benefit analysis would include the cost to ship our trash else where, revenue generated by selling the electricity to BGE, or using it ourselves, construction of generators and a pipeline and operational costs, planting wells (although we do this anyway for burn off).
Finally, keep in mind that Howard County doesn’t have to do this itself. There are private enterprises that will come in and look at the opportunity/potential. If potential exists and it is worth the investment they will proceed and pay the County for the use of the landfill – NASA does this in Prince George County.