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LES gas-to-energy plant goes on line Nov. 1

From the October 28, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published October 28, 2013

By Fallon Forbush
Communications Assistant
(L to R) LES Administrative Board Chair Marilyn McNabb, Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler and LES Administrator and CEO Kevin Wailes cut the ribbon for the Landfill Gas to Energy Project. Photo courtesy of Lincoln Electric System

The Lincoln Electric System in Nebraska will begin operations at its new Landfill Gas to Energy Project on Nov. 1. The project is a 4.8-megawatt generating facility located at the Nebraska utility’s Terry Bundy Generating Station. It is fueled by methane gas produced from decomposing waste at the city’s Bluff Road Landfill, located about one mile away.

video of the plant’s dedication on Oct. 4 can be viewed from LES’s YouTube channel. 

The project began in April 2008 when the city solicited bids to evaluate the feasibility of capturing the landfill gas, LES said. In November 2011, the city and LES signed a 20-year agreement for the utility to purchase and convert the landfill’s methane gas to electricity.

Prior to the project, landfill gas was released through vents, LES said. To operate the plant, LES will purchase approximately 300,000 million British thermal units of the gas from the city each year.

The project is expected to produce 26,000 megawatt-hours of energy annually. LES expects to pay the city about $337,000 in the first year at a rate of $1.10 per one million Btus.

"LES recognized that turning the city’s landfill gas into electricity could be a significant part of meeting its customers’ future needs and the growing desire for more renewable energy in its power mix," Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler said during the dedication ceremony. "It’s inspiring to know that the landfill’s natural byproduct is being captured and burned to create enough energy to power over 2,500 households."

LES installed a gas pipeline between the landfill and the Terry Bundy Generating Station, as well as gas cleaning and compression equipment and electrical generating equipment. LES's investment for the equipment, including pipeline, construction, engineering and other expenses has totaled $11.32 million. That is about 8.75 percent under the project budget of $12.93 million, LES said.

LES’s retail sales will be supplied by approximately 12 percent renewable energy with the addition of the project’s units, LES Administrator and CEO Kevin Wailes said during the dedication. 

By 2016, the amount of renewable energy will jump to 23 percent when the utility adds 100 new megawatts of wind-generated energy that was secured through a power purchase agreement earlier this summer, said Wailes (See Public Power Daily, Aug. 6, 2013).

This project is unique, compared to the utility’s other intermittent renewable energy sources, because the landfill gas units can be dispatched, said Wailes.

Most of the time, with renewable energy, "you’re somewhat at nature’s whim," said Wailes. The landfill gas units, though, "can run all of the time, or we can actually dispatch them to meet certain periods of loads," he said. "That makes them even more valuable."

The plant is recovering gas from 60 acres of the 171-acre landfill, LES said. There is potential for 1,600 kilowatts of expansion, which the utility has the first rights to purchase. LES also has a 15-year extension option at the end of the 20-year agreement since the landfill is not expected to reach capacity until 2035, LES said. 



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Senior Vice President, Publishing 
Jeanne Wickline LaBella

Editorial Director
Robert Varela

Editor, Public Power Daily
Jeannine Anderson

Communications Assistant
Fallon W. Forbush

Manager, Integrated Media 
David L. Blaylock

Integrated Media Editor 
Laura D’Alessandro