- Associated Press - Monday, May 23, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lincoln public works staff members are working on a plan that would fuel many of the city’s buses with compressed natural gas produced from waste collected from toilets and sinks across town.

The proposed project blends the needs of two city entities: StarTran and the wastewater treatment program.

The Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1TRzlOJ) reports that StarTran has 13 buses running on compressed natural gas and plans to purchase seven more with the next year. It wants to have nearly half of its 80-vehicles running on compressed natural gas within a few years.

Assistant public works director Donna Garden said the goal of the project would be to clean the Theresa Street Wastewater Treatment plant’s methane gas further, convert it to compressed natural gas and sell it to StarTran through a waste-to-fuel system that other cities use.

Garden said the methane-to-fuel option had the best results in a staff and consultant study of more than a dozen alternatives.

The city currently uses the methane gas produced in three digesters at the plant to heat generators that produce 40 to 60 percent of the plant’s electric power.

But the 25-year-old generators are ready for replacement. It would cost an estimated $7 million to replace the generators at the Theresa Street plant, less than the $10.5 million for equipment to clean and compress the gas for use as biofuel.

However, the up to $1 million annual income from the fuel product is more compared to about $605,000 generated from electric power each year.

Transit manager Mike Davis said that the project also makes sense for StarTran. The agency could put a $1.7 million fueling facility near the plant.

“We anticipate it being less expensive than what we are paying now,” Davis said. “And the fuel costs will be stable into the future.”

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

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