- Associated Press - Monday, August 22, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The city of Lincoln has lost more than $600,000 since it began to get methane gas out of the city’s landfill and turn it into electricity six years ago.

A federal carbon credit program has helped ease the financial pain, The Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/2bYy0wc ) reported.

Recovering the methane requires two separate projects by two Lincoln-owned utilities.

The Bluff Road landfill operation collects the gas through a series of wells and purifies it as part of a federal Clean Air Act requirement. It then sends the gas to the Terry Bundy Generating station, where it’s burned to generate electricity as part of the Lincoln Electric System’s dedication to using renewable energy.

Lincoln gets some funds back for doing what’s required under federal law, but both programs have lost money.

Lincoln Electric System staff said it lost about $400,000 on the methane plant last year because of very low natural gas prices and low wholesale electricity prices.

Additionally, the landfill’s methane operation lost more than $232,000 over the past six years. The loss was worsened when Mayor Chris Beutler used about $120,000 a year for two years to for a sustainability assistant in his office and the Cleaner Greener Lincoln program.

It appears the landfill methane operation will make nearly $119,000 this fiscal year.

Lincoln Electric System is expected to lose money again this year because the price of wholesale electricity and natural gas is still down, according to Jason Fortik, the utility’s vice president of power supply.

But the loss isn’t likely to continue for the long term. Lincoln Electric System should eventually come close to breaking even on the methane-to-energy project, based on industry forecasts for natural gas prices, Fortik said.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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