Fulton County cashes in on landfill power plant
FULTON COUNTY The Fulton County Board of Supervisors has approved a plan to sell carbon credits for hundreds of thousands of dollars to an emissions-trading brokerage in New York City.
The board approved the deal at its March 14 meeting. The county will sell the carbon credits it generates from its landfill methane gas-to-electric power plant to CantorCO2e, a firm that matches buyers and sellers of environmental credits.
CantorCO2e has agreed to purchase 50,000 voluntary carbon units from Fulton County for $250,000 each in 2012 and 2013, and 40,000 VCUs for $200,000 in 2014.
Fulton County Solid Waste Department Director Jeff Bouchard said the revenue from the carbon credit sale will help pay back the county for its $1.5 million investment in the $6.5 million methane gas to electric power plant. The rest of the plant was paid for by the county’s private-sector partner in the venture, Genesee County-based Innovative Energy Systems.
“We can sell this carbon offset to recoup some of our investment. We can sell these carbon credits for up to 10 years,” he said.
The methane-to-electric plant earns the carbon credit by converting methane gas to electricity rather than allowing it to rise into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide has been linked by some scientists to global climate change. Entities that continue to produce carbon dioxide emissions can buy carbon credits from entities that have reduced emissions to offset their pollution.
“Some firms are trying to go totally green. They can buy these basically on the market which enables them to offset their own carbon emissions and go totally ‘green,’ ” Bouchard said.
Other revenues from the gas-to-electric plant have been slowly increasing. Innovative Energy Systems operates the plant and splits with the county the proceeds from selling electricity back into National Grid’s electric grid. For the first six months the plant was in operation, all of the revenues it produced for Fulton County were wiped out by fees charged to fund a mandatory New York Independent System Operator study examining the affect of the plant on the electricity grid.
Bouchard said for the first three months of 2011, the plant has earned about $65,000 operating at about half capacity. He said during the winter months the plant can produce only about 1.6 megawatts of electricity, half of its 3.2 megawatt potential, because frozen, snow-covered garbage produces less methane. He said when it warms up the garbage begins to decay faster and produce more gas.