Colonie officials deliver good news about gas

Town officials are again upping the amount they stand to make by year's end on the methane-to-electricity plant at the town landfill.

This spring, the town hinted that the plant was approaching the $1 million in revenue mark after it hit $600,000 after being in operation for nine months.

The plant, tucked away in the north end of the landfill, collects and burns methane generated by decomposing waste at the site. Pipes and wells were installed through the landfill to supply three 43,000-pound Caterpillar-made generators with 1,200 cubic feet per minute of methane.

Initial computer estimates done by Innovative Energy Systems of Oakfield, the firm that jointly owns and operates the plant with the town, showed that the plant wouldn't be at full capacity until 2008. That mark was met months ago, said Joseph Stockbridge, director of the town's environmental services department.

Even though payout for both entities is good, the two are constantly working to collect more gas and turn a profit, he said.

Ideally, we've been working with IES in the field to improve collection and expand it, he said. "It's synergy. It's mutually beneficial."

Since the plant went online last spring, the landfill has changed the way it handles and disposes of waste, he said. More attention is given to separating non-biodegradable waste that takes up landfill space and doesn't contribute anything to gas generation. Landfill staff also began shredding the waste at the landfill to help facilitate decomposition, all along installing new pipelines and wells to collect and feed the gas to the electric plant.

It has led to better use of landfill space, Stockbridge said.

"The whole project is one of those win-win situations. You start out conservative with revenue because you don't know. But to have it take off like that is just phenomenal," said Mary Brizzell, town supervisor.

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