December 22, 2014

Trash gas: green energy that lasts

Landfill gas-to-energy station opens in Pinconning Township

Tim Barnum
Granger spokesman Marc Pauley addresses the grand opening crowd.
Tim Barnum
A methane well can be seen sticking out of the Whitefeather landfill.
Tim Barnum
Granger COO Joel Zylstra.
Tim Barnum
Sen. Jim Barcia speaks at the Granger grand opening.
Tim Barnum
The exterior of the Granger Electric landfill gas-to-energy building in Pinconning Township.
Tim Barnum
The compressor room at the Granger station, which treats the methane gas prior to it being burnt by the station's engines.
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By Tim Barnum|News editor
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PINCONNING TOWNSHIP —In Spartan country, going green isn’t a mindset being pitched in the trash.

But perhaps it should be, since Granger Electric, of Lansing, partnering with Republic Services and Consumers Energy celebrated the grand opening of its newest landfill gas-to-energy station at the Whitefeather Landfill in Pinconning Township on Thursday.

According to Joel Zylstra, chief operating officer of Granger, the station basically vacuums out methane gas that is being emitted from the landfill via compressors, burns it and converts it to electricity.

“Methane is a greenhouse gas, so rather than it being emitted into the atmosphere, it’s being burned (at the station),” said Granger spokesman Marc Pauley. “We are offsetting the greenhouse gas emission equivalent to taking 25,000 cars off the road, also, the equivalent of sequestering the carbon of over 30,000 acres of forest.”

“Methane burns very cleanly,” Zylstra added.

96th District Representative Jeff Mayes (D – Bay City), the Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Technology, says the Granger facility is an integral part of the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), a bill he co-authored.

“Under RPS, we are saying that by 2015, we want 10-percent of our energy to come from renewable energy sources,” Mayes said. “That’s wind, that’s solar, but it also includes waste energy.

“It’s an important piece of the puzzle.”

One reason the speakers at the grand opening of the plant say they are fired up over landfill gas-to-energy conversion is its reliability.

“Landfill gas is a safe and reliable source of energy that can be generated 24 hours a day – even on days when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow,” said 31st District State Senator Jim Barcia (D – Bay City).

Pauley says the station is already pumping out a credible amount of power.

“We’re in the process right now of generating three megawatts, or 3,000 kilowatts,” he said.

“This clean energy project is going to create enough clean energy to fuel roughly 2,000 homes,” added Republic Services General Manager Tom Mahoney.

Pauley also says Granger will receive tax deductions through federal electrical production tax credit programs for renewable energy production; and kilowatt per hour generated federal tax credits.

As far as jobs go, Zylstra says there will be a few people put on payroll to man the station, but added that due to the numerous methane-vacuuming wells placed in the landfill, more employees will likely be hired at the Whitefeather landfill.

For more information on Granger Electric, visit grangernet.com. For more information on Republic Services, visit republicservices.com.

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