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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Landfill gas may fuel dryers at Jones Island

From an article by Don Behm in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Building a 17-mile pipeline to carry landfill gas from Muskego to the Jones Island sewage treatment plant on Lake Michigan will save the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, its customers and property-tax payers at least $148 million in the next two decades, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and sewerage district officials said Monday.

The bulk of the savings will come from buying landfill gas at just 48% of the price of natural gas, under terms of an agreement negotiated with Veolia ES, owner of the Emerald Park landfill in Muskego.

There could be additional savings to property-tax payers in the district if federal stimulus money is used to pay even part of the estimated $22 million in pipeline construction costs, sewerage district Executive Director Kevin Shafer said.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was in Washington on Friday to learn more about stimulus programs, and he said Monday that this project should be a good fit: It could be started quickly and it is environmentally friendly.

"We're going to be pitching this thing as hard as we can" to federal and state agencies, Barrett said in an interview. . . .

The landfill gas at Muskego is between 50% and 55% methane and will replace natural gas as the fuel for 12 sewage sludge dryers inside the Milorganite fertilizer production facility at Jones Island, under the proposal. Cost of converting the dryers to burn landfill gas is included in the $22 million construction estimate, Shafer said.

Pipeline work is scheduled to begin in July of this year, with a goal of completing the work by Jan. 1, 2011. Three possible pipeline routes being studied would use existing state Department of Transportation easements adjacent to highways and freeways.

Burning landfill gas in the dryers will save at least $113 million in the first 20 years, Shafer said. And there is an estimated 40-year supply at the landfill.

In 2009, the district has budgeted spending $13.2 million for natural gas.

"This project will bring big savings to MMSD customers," Barrett said. The Miller-Coors brewery alone should pay $5.9 million less in user charges - an 11.5% drop - during that period.

"This will help retain and grow businesses," Barrett said.

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