Pipeline from Persigo would fuel vehicles with converted methane

Barbara Traylor-Smith

The Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant burns off the equivalent of 530 gallons of methane each day, but soon enough the city of Grand Junction’s fleet vehicles will be running off that fuel.

All Grand Junction city councilors gave the nod to city staff on Monday night to move forward with the idea.

A proposal to spend $2.8 million from Persigo’s capital fund balance formally will be presented at a council meeting Wednesday night.

Sewer rates to residents would not increase because of the project.

“We’ve been trying to make this thing come real for 10 years now,” said Dan Tonello, Persigo’s wastewater systems manager.

The plan calls for converting methane generated from human waste at Persigo into compressed natural gas.

The city would build a pipeline along Riverside Parkway five miles southeast to the city shops where the city operates 10 slow-fill natural gas stations.

Another 10 stations are nearly under construction to accommodate a growing fleet of utility trucks, dump trucks and trash trucks.

At an initial estimate of $2.8 million for the pipeline construction and the equipment to convert the gas, the city estimates it would take about eight years to recoup the investment.

There also may be energy credits the city can utilize.

Construction on the project may take about a year.

Roughly 300 gallons of compressed natural gas are used each day by the city’s fleet of trash trucks, dump trucks and utility trucks.

As more compressed natural gas vehicles are purchased, all of Persigo’s gas could be used to fuel vehicles.

Persigo also could produce more methane if the demand for the fuel increases, officials said.

“This will be the first in Colorado. It was the first in the nation when we started (investigating the idea),” City Manager Rich Englehart said.

Burning off methane contributes to air pollution, as did the mostly diesel-powered fleet of vehicles that the city had used.

Many of those fleet vehicles now have been upgraded to compressed natural gas vehicles.

Emissions vary depending on the vehicle, but compared with diesel trucks, compressed natural gas trash trucks emit 75 percent less carbon monoxide, 95 percent less particulate matter and 49 percent less nitrogen dioxide and nitric acid, pollutants that are created by engine combustion.

Councilor Barbara Traylor-Smith said she is encouraged that the project will capture the methane, reducing tons of air pollutants.

Wintertime air quality in the Grand Valley often comes close to non-attainment levels dictated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

If the levels regularly fell out of attainment, the Grand Valley would be forced to comply with some standards to improve its air quality.

“I like getting out ahead of this and not flaring off this gas before them telling us we have to,” Traylor-Smith said.


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