The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

December 2, 2013

County gas project hits 'kinks'


TARBORO — Edgecombe County officials are still working out the "kinks" for the opening of the Landfill Gas Operation project that is projected to generate $300,000 yearly. Technical problems prevented the operation from opening this week as projected.

"There's a problem with our computer connecting to Edgecombe-Martin County Electric Membership Corporation (EMC)," said Edgecombe County Manager Lorenzo Carmon. "We hope to have that problem cleared within the next five to 10 days."

The groundwork for the project began about six years ago with a study made by Appalachian Energy Center at Appalachian State University. The study found a method for 1.8 million tons of waste at the landfill on Colonial Road to generate methane gas. The gas will be sold to EMC, who in return will use it to generate electricity. EMC provides electrical utility to the vast majority of Edgecombe County citizens.

The $1 million project is financed by the Golden Leaf Foundation, Z Smith Reynolds Foundation and Edgecombe County.

Revenue from the Landfill Gas Operation will assist in paying back the investment while a portion of the proceeds will be placed in the county's Economic development "pot," Carmon said. Engineers have estimated that the landfill will produce gas for the next 20 to 30 years.

"This is a win-win situation for us," Carmon said. "We are saving the environment by not sending the methane in the atmosphere and at the same time generating revenue for the county."

The new operation will also create at least one job. The county is in the process of hiring a Landfill Gas Operation manager. Carmon said the job will remain open until it is filled.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas believe to have more than 20 times the global warming effects of carbon dioxide. The landfill project will help prevent global warming by digging wells in the landfill and pulling the gas through pipes to a central location where it will burned in a flare creating less harmful carbon dioxide.

The Landfill Gas Operation site was once used for the county solid waste. After surpassing regulations, it was capped off and closed in 1995. When the 1999 Hurricane Floyd floodwaters destroyed hundreds of houses and buildings in Edgecombe, the county reopened the site for construction demolition waste. Reopening the site produced even more gas.

Once the operation is in working condition, it is expected to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To celebrate the operation, Carmon will plan a ribbon cutting ceremony.

"We're not going to do it the first day that it's in operation," he said. "We're going to wait until all the kinks have been worked out. We look forward to getting all the kinks worked out. Edgecombe Martin looks forward to it as well."