Persigo’s methane may fuel vehicles

Grand Junction city councilors gave city staff the go-ahead Monday to hire a consultant to study the costs of a project to convert sewage into compressed natural gas to fuel fleet vehicles.

Councilors were presented with options of either funding the project through the city or taking out a private sector loan. Those options will be brought back to councilors after a study is completed.

For the past decade, city staff has been investigating how to capture the methane burned off at Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant and reuse the compressed natural gas.

Plans including building a five-mile pipeline along the Colorado Riverfront Trail to the city shops on Riverside Parkway.

The city already uses compressed natural gas in a number of its fleet vehicles and has built a compressed natural gas station there. A separate compressed natural gas pump for personal vehicles is available for public use.

The pipeline is expected to cost roughly $1.75 million, while operational costs of scrubbing Persigo’s methane are estimated at $50,000 a year.

After 10 years of operations, with the cost to create its own compressed natural gas dipping to an estimated 19 cents a gallon, the project is expected to pay for itself.

The city purchases about 300 gallons a day of compressed natural gas from Xcel Energy at its current price of $1.02 a gallon.

Persigo flares off about 400 gallons of methane each day.

“As our community grows we will produce more gas,” said Dan Tonello, Persigo’s wastewater systems manager. “It’s a real neat relationship as far as supply and demand. It provides sustainable renewal energy.”

If completed, the project may be the first of its kind, though other municipalities also are considering similar conversions, Tonello said.

Jay Valentine, internal services manager for Grand Junction, said there are energy tax credits and there may be state grants available to help defray costs.

The project may be especially attractive for grants because of its creative way of reusing energy.

Grand Junction already has invested in a number of compressed natural gas vehicles like refuse trucks and utility trucks.

Counting Grand Valley Transit buses, there are 18 compressed natural gas vehicles that fill up at 10 slow-fill stations at the city shops facility.

On another front, Grand Junction is requesting $200,000 in a state Department of Local Affairs grant to help purchase 10 more slow-fill stations and a backup compressor.

Grand Valley Transit also is requesting two more compressed natural gas-fueled buses through a Local Arrairs grant application.

City officials should know in February or March if their grant request is approved.


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