NY Governor Inaugurates Landfill-to-Gas Facility

Marking another milestone on Earth Day of New York Governor George Pataki’s efforts to make New York the nation’s leader in renewable energy, the governor announced the grand opening of Hudson Valley Community College’s (HVCC) new US$8.4 million co-generation facility, which will use clean, renewable energy to provide power to the entire 90-acre campus located in Troy.

Troy, New York – April 22, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] “This project is an outstanding example of how New York is taking the next step to promote and develop clean and renewable energy so that we can protect our environment, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and encourage economic growth through new energy technologies,” Governor Pataki said. “This innovative project will serve as an example to colleges and universities, health care facilities, corporate parks and others that a strong commitment to clean, renewable energy can produce both environmental and economic benefits.” Governor Pataki was joined at the HVCC campus by Senate Majority Leader Bruno, HVCC President Marco J. Silvestri, Ph.D. and other State and local officials to mark the opening of the new facility. The event is also the first in a series that the Governor will take part in across the State to commemorate Earth Day. The State committed more than $2.5 million for the construction and operation of the new facility — which is expected to save the college approximately $50,000 to $60,000 annually in energy costs. HVCC is the first college in the SUNY system to achieve energy independence by harnessing methane gas that would otherwise be burned off into the atmosphere and instead making it an inexpensive and reliable source of new energy. The co-generation plant will use methane captured from a local landfill as an energy source, and will help reduce air pollution and minimize odors in the surrounding community, as well as tap into an otherwise wasted source of usable energy. One of the units is powered by methane gas transported via a 3,100-foot pipeline from a municipal landfill. The 54-acre landfill was closed about six years ago. As all landfills do, it continues to produce methane gas as its waste decays. The other three generators are powered by natural gas. Together, the four generators provide sufficient electric capacity to meet the college’s needs even if one of the units is out of service for maintenance or repair. The project not only allows the college to disconnect from the local utility electric grid, but also improves the environment by utilizing natural and landfill gas. These gases produce far fewer emissions than other power-generating fuels such as coal or oil. In addition, methane gas that is simply vented into the atmosphere and not burned contributes to the greenhouse gas problem. The project is a partnership between the City of Troy, the State of New York, Hudson Valley Community College and Siemens Building Technologies Inc. Siemens built, and is operating, HVCC’s 8,000-square-foot co-generation plant, which will burn methane generated by decomposition in the former Troy landfill, in combination with natural gas, to generate electricity for the entire campus. Additional savings will also be realized by using the heat produced by the operation of the system to power a heating/air conditioning system in the college’s McDonough Sports Complex. The college received a $500,000 grant from NYSERDA for the project, as well as an additional $50,000 grant that will allow the college to install Web-based metering of electrical use of all campus buildings to help track energy savings. The new co-generation system is expected to save the college approximately $50,000 to $60,000 annually in energy costs. DEC has also committed to providing $2 million through the State’s Environmental Protection Fund to cover certain costs of the project. Hudson Valley plans to incorporate the facility into its curriculum as part of its Plant Utilities Technology program. As the number of small and medium-sized co-generation plants increase nationwide, students at HVCC will gain valuable first-hand experience and training as future plant operators. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a project of this nature can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide air quality benefits equal to planting more than 48,000 acres of forest – or removing 36,000 cars from the roadways – annually. In his State of the State address, Governor Pataki called for expanding research and development efforts and make New York a leader in clean and renewable energy technology. The State currently invests approximately $20 million annually in support of renewable energy sources including wind, solar, tidal power, and geothermal. Under Governor Pataki’s leadership, New York has committed more than $50 million to develop distributed generation and combined heat and power projects, like the one at HVCC, across the State. “Under Governor Pataki’s leadership, we have been helping the State’s educational institutions reduce their energy costs, and increase the use of renewable energy resources,” said NYSERDA President Peter R. Smith. “We are pleased to be part of the team that has helped Hudson Valley inaugurate a system that will make the college completely independent from the electric grid, and all of us less dependent on foreign fuels.”
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