Monday, December 19, 2011

(Daily Gleaner Editorial, december 15, 2011)

It's another feather in the hat of the Greater Fredericton area.

Earlier this week, the Fredericton Region Solid Waste Commission announced it had reached a 20-year deal with NB Power to use its methane gas collection system to generate electricity to the utility's power grid.

Powered by the landfill's methane gas, two large generators will run simultaneously with the energy produced being turned into electricity.

The deal is expected to net the commission more than $20 million in profit.

"For our organization, that's a good deal," said Fredericton Solid Waste Commission general manager and CEO Gordon Wilson.

It's a good deal for the commission and its a good one for this area.

Methane, a flammable, gaseous hydrocarbon - formed in this case by rotting garbage - is being utilized by a growing number of landfills around the world. Instead of simply venting the gas, many locations are developing it and turning it into a source of income.

The local effort is a prime example of what can be done when citizens and organizations, such as the Solid Waste Commission, join forces and use their collective energy for the betterment of mankind.

In this case, the commission has shown outsiders that the capital region is in control of its destiny and very much in tune with an ever-increasing green world.

The Solid Waste Commission has long been a leader in the environmental field.

According to the organization's 2010 annual report, its landfill gas management system, the first of its kind in New Brunswick, removed approximately 45,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent from the atmosphere last year.

That's a significant figure and one that should increase when the new generation system comes online.

Once the generators are in place in about a year's time, the landfill's methane will have the ability to produce 2.1 megawatts of electricity - the equivalent of lighting and heating more than 2,000 homes or, as Mr. Wilson said during the announcement, "a portion of Oromocto."

"The energy we are now creating through our system is an awful lot more than we need here to power our own buildings," Mr. Wilson said. "That energy was there for us, but was being flared. There is so much more we can do with it and we're entering that phase now. This is a positive environmental story."

We agree.

Energy Minister Craig Leonard said such projects not only contribute to the reliability of the province's electric system, but reduce greenhouse gas emissions, helping to keep New Brunswick a leader in green and renewable generation.

Blair Kennedy, vice-president of generation for NB Power, said the electricity produced by the Solid Waste Commission will help the utility meet a goal of having 40 per cent of its power generation from renewable resources.

This speaks well for the future of this province's energy system.

Solid Waste Commission's methane project will cost $6.5 million once all the bills are tallied up. The amazing part of all this is that it was accomplished without receiving a dime of funding from government. It's a success story of which we can all be proud.

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