Liberty Utilities plans to capture methane from a closed landfill in the town of Bethlehem and use it to provide natural gas to about 6,000 homes.
The company said Thursday, Sept. 27, that it has applied for permission from the Public Utilities Commission to go ahead and if all goes well, the plant would be online by 2019. Bethlehem is just north of Franconia.
Liberty Utilities said the project could supply about 6 percent of the company’s total annual natural gas sales in New Hampshire. It is expected to provide approximately 475,000 dekatherms annually in the first 10 years of operation, all of which will be used to serve customers in New Hampshire. A typical New Hampshire home uses about 78 dekatherms of natural gas per year.
Methane is produced by the breakdown of organic materials in landfills. Burning this gas and using the heat to create electricity has long been part of the region’s renewable energy program. According to ISO-New England, which oversees the regional power grid, landfill gas provides approximately as much New England electricity as solar power.
Methane is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect.
“Liberty Utilities said the project could supply about 6 percent of the company’s total annual natural gas sales in New Hampshire.” I get a much smaller number than 6%. Liberty moved about 20 million Dekatherms (DTH) in 2017. 475,000 DTH/year is the annual volume quoted in the Union Leader as the output of the Bethlehem landfill. That comes to about 2.4% of their annual volume. I gather they get the 6% number by dividing the 475,000 by 78 DTH/yr used by residential customers. That’s about 6,000 homes. 6000 customers out of their 92,000 customers is about 6.5%. (I just love how Liberty plays with numbers!) If Liberty really wants to be environmentally responsible, they should address the 2.2% of the gas volume that was Lost and Unaccounted For in 2017. That volume is about 356,000 DTH (enough gas to heat 4500 homes for a year) and ratepayers reimbursed them for that to the tune of $2.4 Million. (Not much incentive to fix the leaks!) As noted in the article, methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas, “Roy says the methane – a more potent contributor to greenhouse gas emissions than carbon dioxide – is still being burned at the landfill, but the compressed natural gas project would eliminate nearly all of those carbon emissions.” Most of the leaky pipes are old cast iron and bare steel pipes. The replacement schedule for those old pipes doesn’t complete until 2034 (Concord Monitor, Sept 17, 2018). That is just unacceptable! All the numbers referenced for volumes shipped or lost can be found on page 49 of Liberty’s March 31, 2018 release of the 2017 Annual Report.