City votes to use sewer-plant gas to fuel its vehicles

A long-standing idea to use methane flared off at Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant and convert it to compressed natural gas to run fleet vehicles got the green light Wednesday night by Grand Junction city councilors.

Councilors approved of a $2.8 million contract with BioCng, LLC, to complete the project, which will include a five-mile pipeline from Persigo south to the city’s shops off the Riverside Parkway. A number of the city’s fleet vehicles there already are powered by compressed natural gas.

Council’s decision Wednesday night also approved the city to apply for a $500,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. If the city is granted the funds, the money would be put toward pipeline installation.

Councilor Marty Chazen cast the sole dissenting vote against the project, explaining that he first wanted agreements with other government entities that would be purchasing the fuel, if the price of fuel fluctuated in the future.

Money to pay for the project will come from Persigo’s reserve fund and the project is expected to be paid off in a decade. Persigo is required to keep a reserve balance and money used for the pipeline and conversion will not prompt any rate increases, Mayor Phyllis Norris said.

The city and Grand Valley Transit initially will be paying more for each gallon for fuel. The city currently pays just under $1.00 a gallon for compressed natural gas from Xcel, but it has agreed to pay $1.50 a gallon until the project is paid off. At that time, the cost of compressed natural gas that otherwise would have been flared off to pollute the air should be negligible.

Persigo currently flares off the equivalent of 400 gallons of fuel each day, said Greg Lanning, the city’s director of public works and utilities.


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