11/03/11 — Local officials gather for dedication of plant

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Local officials gather for dedication of plant

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 3, 2011 1:46 PM

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Bob McCall, vice president, Eastern Region, Progress Energy Carolinas, left, claps alongside Michael Keeley of Methane Power Inc. during the event that marked the 100 percent operation of the methane power plant at the Wayne County landfill.

DUDLEY -- Watching flames shooting from the flare at the Wayne County landfill might be fascinating for most people. But for Methane Power Inc. officials, that flame means money and electricity.

The company's power plant that converts the methane created by decomposition in the landfill into electricity went online last December.

Two of the three power-producing units are now online and Wednesday morning local and company officials, including some visitors from the London-based parent company, gathered at the county landfill for a brief dedication ceremony.

Speakers Geoffrey Broomhead, president, Methane Power Inc., Wayne County Manager Lee Smith and Bob McCall, vice president, Eastern Region, Progress Energy Carolinas, all used the occasion to extol the public-private partnership that made the project possible.

The project was made possible through the collaborative efforts of Wayne County, Progress Energy and Methane Power Inc.

They also spoke about the importance of growing "green" renewable energy sources.

Construction began in September 2010 on the $10 million facility, which also will relieve the county of expenses associated with the installation and maintenance of the wells and piping required to capture the gas.

Dec. 11, 2010, was the first day of operation producing power on the three-engine site. Currently only two of the engines are operational and work is under way in the landfill to bring in enough gas to run all three engines.

"There is enough room for five units and expansion for more," said Alex Zollinger, plant operator.

The third engine is expected to come online by the middle of next year, he said.

Over the course of the year with all three engines running the plant will be able to produce enough energy to power 1,800 houses.

The county will also realize close to $200,000 annually in revenues for the county for rights to the gas and the power, which will be sold to Progress Energy.

Based in Cary, Methane Power designed and installed and will now operate and maintain the project that will generate up to three megawatts of electricity. The company is leasing one-half acre from the county at a cost of $1,200 annually for the plant.

The county also benefits because of improvements to the gas collection system made by Methane Power.

The company has a similar project at a closed Durham landfill where three units have been running since 2009. In addition, it has direct-use project in Greenwood, S.C. -- a pipeline that runs from the landfill to the Fuji film plant down there that fires the plant's boilers.