Dan Hust | Democrat
THIS PROPERTY FACING East Broadway in Monticello is being eyed by the NYS Department of Transportation for a CNG facility.
NYSDOT eyes landfill for fuel
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Turns out the NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) would prefer not to ship compressed natural gas (CNG) into Monticello.
And since its proposed CNG fueling facility on East Broadway will sit on property next door to the Sullivan County Landfill, it might not have to.
“Generally, you can produce 30,000 gallons a day,” said Joe Darling of the landfill’s estimated ability to generate methane gas, a byproduct of organic decomposition.
Darling is the DOT’s director of fleet administration, and he’s the agency’s chief developer of CNG facilities statewide.
SC Division of Public Works Commissioner Bob Meyer has pegged methane production at 1,000 cubic feet per day, and Darling is optimistic that simply tapping into the landfill which is nearing capacity could keep the CNG station well-supplied for the next 15 years.
With a state mandate to convert the DOT’s fleet of trucks and cars to CNG or other alternative fuels in the near future, Darling is hoping to land a $15 million grant from NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) later this year to begin construction.
“The other facilities,” he said of the 11 DOT-operated CNG stations in New York, “were built with Environmental Act bond money in the early 2000s.”
And with the state in a financial bind, gaining that NYSERDA grant is the only way the DOT will be able to afford to build the fuel station, he added.
County legislators Dave Sager, Alan Sorensen and Ron Hiatt are helping develop the concept, which Sullivan County Office for Sustainable Energy Coordinator Heather Brown called “an appetizing option.”
“We do a lot of flaring right now,” she said of the non-revenue-generating burning off of the methane, which could be converted into CNG, provided it meets certain purity standards. “... It’s energy waiting to be utilized.”
But the county, she explained, is not yet ready to commit to sending the methane to the fueling station, which would be located next door to the DOT’s Monticello base on East Broadway.
Some is already used to heat the materials recovery facility (MRF) the landfill, and more could possibly be used to generate electricity or to fuel a proposed expanded MRF on site.
“With the price of electricity,” Brown mused, “is it better for us to use it in a gas-to-energy program?”
Legislators will have to determine that in the months ahead, should the DOT get that NYSERDA grant.
If everything falls into place, however, Darling estimated this first-of-its-kind-in-the-state methane-to-CNG facility could be up and running by next year, offering CNG to the DOT, county and general public for possibly less cost than gasoline. (A private contractor would be hired to sell the CNG to the public, said Darling, as the DOT can legally only provide oversight to prevent price-gouging.)
However, CNG cars for the average consumer are still rarities only Honda offers one, the Civic so adoption beyond local and state government may take a while.
If the fueling station concept proves unviable, Darling indicated the complex may still be built as a storage area where the gas is collected and then shipped to existing DOT facilities.