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Michigan Landfill To Host Gas-to-Energy Conversion

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KIMBALL TWP. (AP) – In about a month, gas from Smiths Creek Landfill will be turned into usable electricity.

Construction of a gas-to-energy generator at the landfill has been ongoing since July on the Smiths Creek property, said Marcus Bilinski, project manager for the system.

The generator – owned by Blue Water Renewables, a subsidiary of DTE Biomass Energy – is expected to be up and running by mid-November, Bilinski said.
The Michigan Public Service Commission approved an agreement in January between Detroit Edison and Blue Water Renewables to purchase the electricity from the generator at the landfill.

Currently, gas extracted from the landfill is burned off. With the generator, the landfill’s gas will be used to produce 3.2 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 3,000 homes.

David Terry, the facility operator for Blue Water Renewables, said the gas-to-energy generator will run about 95 percent of the time.
Blue Water Renewables will sell energy produced at the landfill to Detroit Edison. The county is estimated to receive at least $400,000 a year in royalties, landfill manager Matt Williams said.

“It’s renewable energy. It’s good for the environment,” Bilinski said. “It provides revenue to the county for … an otherwise wasted byproduct.”

The county used a $1.3 million loan from the state to construct the building that contains the gas-to-energy generator and an education room, Williams said. And 40 percent of that loan is expected to be forgiven.

Turning gas into electricity begins with gas extraction from the landfill. While landfill gas has been collected since fall 2002, gas output increased dramatically with the addition of a bioreactor in 2007, Williams said. The bioreactor’s addition of septage helps speed up the decomposition rate of garbage in the landfill.

Gas extracted from the landfill is compressed to 3 psi. It’s then sent through a pipeline to two large 20-cylinder engines located within a building at the landfill. Each is capable of producing 1.6 megawatts.

Energy produced goes through a transformer, which increases its voltage, and then out to Detroit Edison’s electrical grid.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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