MUNSTER | Hailed as an environmentally sound and fiscally responsible effort, the Centennial Park landfill methane gas-to-energy project was officially introduced Monday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony inside the park clubhouse.
Rain and lightning prevented the symbolic start to be held at the site, which will officially go online in about two weeks.
“We’re in the final stages of testing,” said Lawrence Roth, vice president of new markets with Energy Systems, of Newburgh, Ind.
ESG was chosen by the Munster Town Council to provide the sustainable energy solution at the former landfill site along Calumet Avenue. Methane produced by the decomposing garbage in the century-old landfill is trapped and sent through piping into a compressor.
A new GE Jenbacher engine/generator turns the methane gas into electricity. What isn’t used to power the entire Centennial Park facility is sold to NIPSCO at 10 cents per kilowatt hour through the fee in tariff program the utility company instituted in 2011.
“We’re not throwing away the methane or letting it go up in the air,” said David Nellans, Town Council president and Redevelopment Commission chairman. “We’re doing something environmentally sound and not having to mine or harvest energy sources to create energy."
U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, said he is especially impressed that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, town fathers already knew they wanted to turn the landfill into a community asset.
“Town boards kept their eye on the ball on what they wanted, and it’s better than they envisioned,” Visclosky said. “This is an investment of tax dollars and federal tax dollars. It’s going to save money for the residents of Munster.”
He also acknowledged NIPSCO as “a good corporate citizen.”
Rick Calinski, of NIPSCO, said the project symbolizes “a partnership for a renewable energy resource all the while being a good steward of the environment.”
The project will produce about 1.1 megawatts of electricity, Roth said.
“In addition to a new enclosed flare and blower, the project employs a heat conversion technology which will take excess heat off a large generator at the site,” he said.
That heat will be turned into more electricity.
This landfill gas-to-electricity project also reduces Munster’s carbon footprint, Roth said, by reducing 5,500 metric tones of carbon dioxide.
“That’s the equivalent of planting 1,200 acres of trees and conserving enough electricity to power 720 homes,” he said.
It also will reap financial benefits for the town, Nellans said.
“It should provide $1 million in gross receipts for the town (over the life of the project),” he said.
Munster will send an invoice to NIPSCO for the electricity the town sells to the utility company, which will be paid monthly, Nellans said.