Gas-To-Energy Plant Plans

by Press Release-Burlington County | Feb 11, 2005
Gas-To-Energy Plant Plans Burlington County Freeholders this week introduced one bond ordinance aimed at generating millions of dollars in energy cost savings from landfill gas, and a second that will attract more research ventures at the county’s experimental greenhouse.

It was in August of 2002 that freeholders first announced plans to construct a gas-to-energy generating facility at the county’s 522-acre Resource Recovery Complex in Florence and Mansfield Townships. Today, freeholders introduced an ordinance which will fund the $12 million construction cost of the plant while providing another $1.1 million to install 17 gas extraction wells in the landfill.

According to the County’s consultants, the gas-to-energy plant should generate approximately $15 million in cost savings over 15 years. Not only will it offset the $572,000 electric bill at the complex, it will generate a generous surplus of green power which the County will sell back to the power suppliers.

The second ordinance will enable the freeholders to refinance the remaining $4 million payment on 1993 bond issue for various landfill projects, which included construction of the $2.3 million greenhouse. The same ordinance empowers the county to then issue and sell new “taxable bonds.”

This change in the form of financing will provide greater flexibility in allowing research projects at the greenhouse.

“Both of these ordinances are ultimately stone cold winners for the taxpayers of Burlington County,” said Freeholder William S. Haines, Jr. “Turning methane gas into cash can only help our struggling solid waste budget, and our efforts to provide environmentally safe waste disposal at a reasonable cost.

“As for the greenhouse, exchanging non-taxable bonds for taxable bonds will enable us to invite more private enterprise into the complex, and to become involved in experimental projects which will likewise turn waste into new products and sources of energy.”

Under the law, the amount of private research opportunities at the greenhouse has been limited because of the county government’s general obligation bonds – all non-taxable – that were issued to build the facility. By replacing those bonds with taxable securities, the County, and its partner in the greenhouse project, Rutgers Cook College, will be able to enter into more research and development contracts with private industry.

“It was always the County and Rutgers’ intent to make the greenhouse a center for private industry research to develop new technologies,” said Haines. “Unfortunately, the non-taxable status of the bonds has constrained us in terms of the amount of private research we can actually allow.”

As for the gas-to-energy plant, complex public finance issues have delayed construction in recent months. But freeholders now are confident that bidding and construction can begin within the next four months.

The energy savings from the project will include a grant of approximately $4 million from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, which will be paid out over the first five years of operation.

Once built, the plant will be one of the largest public generators of renewable energy in the State. It will house five engine generators and produce 7.25 million mega-watts per hour, or enough energy for about 8,000 homes.

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Author: Press Release-Burlington County

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