Power Authority, Senator Wright to Explore Use of Landfill Gas

Michael Saltzman

April 30, 2002


New York Power Authority officials announced Tuesday that they would study the feasibility of using methane gas from a landfill operated by the Development Authority of the North Country to produce low cost electricity. Senator Jim Wright (R,C,I - Watertown), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, has lent his support to the analysis.

"We estimate that the landfill could produce at least enough gas to generate three to six megawatts of electricity," said Louis P. Ciminelli, chairman of the Power Authority.  "We are working with Senator Wright to see if this project makes technical, ecological and economic sense.  We are looking to meet one of Governor Pataki's major goals of providing better government services at lower costs."

One megawatt of electricity can power 1000 households.

Senator Wright expressed enthusiasm over the proposal.  "By utilizing an underdeveloped resource produced right here, we are tapping into a fuel that is clean, cheap and available  to help us meet our electricity needs," said Senator Wright.  "I am pleased to team with NYPA to look at innovative avenues to meet the energy needs of Northern New Yorkers."

The landfill, which was opened in 1992, is considered state of the art design.  The site covers 1,200 acres with 33 acres currently active as a landfill.  The facility, which serves Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties is located near Rodman, about 15 miles south of Watertown.

The site has an existing collection system for methane gas that was producing about 850 cubic feet per minute (cfm) in February.  Newly drilled wells are expected to increase the flow to 1,200 cfm.  Ultimately, the landfill is expected to produce about 2,500 cfm.

Located in a remote area with no large electrical users nearby, DANC would seek to sell the electricity to a third party or parties.  The Power Authority has indicated it will assist DANC in the marketing of the power. Further, Senator Wright is urging the analysis to be expanded to include possible agricultural benefits for local farmers.

The Power Authority and Senator Wright have also expressed an interest in conducting tests at the site to determine if windmill-turbine generation is feasible.

Senator Wright pointed out that the project would join others that he and the Power Authority have worked on together in the region.

"In Watertown, we worked with the State, completely updating electrical and other equipment at the Dulles State Office Building, making the building far more efficient and cheaper to operate," said Senator Wright.  "Cumulatively, taxpayers are saving well over $350,000 a year from this project alone.  Once an additional energy efficiency project is completed by the city of Watertown, local savings will increase."

In addition, the Power Authority and Senator Wright have also jointly promoted energy efficiency projects in the Villages of Theresa and Philadelphia, the Canton, Hermon-DeKalb, Morristown and Thousand Island school districts as well as Jefferson Community College and St. Lawrence County government buildings.  Collectively, annual taxpayer savings on these projects is nearly $1 million.

"We are working together on all levels to promote projects that are beneficial to the environment and will provide a savings to taxpayers by cutting the cost of government services," said Senator Wright.