TEP Methane From Landfill

Here’s a link to a story published in the Arizona Daily Star on 11/27/2005. The story really surprised me because the idea seems so simple, so novel, so forward-thinking, thinking outside the box. Who thought this idea up? Will TEP be a good citizen and use more of its resources to help make Tucson a better place to live?

Methane-gas use lets TEP cut back on coal

By Eric Swedlund
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 11.27.2005

In the six years since TEP began producing electricity from methane produced at the city’s Los Reales Landfill, the program has saved 100,000 tons of coal, the utility says.

The program launched in August 1999 when Tucson Electric Power reached an agreement to purchase the methane gas from the city. The methane, a natural emission created by decomposition in the landfill, is captured and piped about three miles to TEP’s H. Wilson Sundt Generating Station on East Irvington Road, said Joe Salkowski, a utility spokesman.

The program is mutually beneficial, with TEP cutting its coal use by burning methane and the landfill operators not having to deal with the hazardous byproduct.

TEP generates 5.5 megawatts of energy from burning the methane gas, enough power to serve 5,500 homes.

The boiler that TEP uses to burn both gas and coal generates 120 megawatts of power, so the methane program cuts coal consumption by 4.6 percent.

By burning less coal, TEP can reduce its emissions. The methane program has reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by more than 870 tons and avoided the production of more than 145,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

And unlike other renewable energy sources, methane isn’t any more expensive than coal, Salkowski said. The city by law has to control landfill gas and assisting in providing clean energy is a benefit, said Nancy Petersen, deputy director for environmental services.

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