Natural Gas Fuel for Refuse Trucks – The Right Choice

NGVAmerica has strengthened the argument for take-up of natural gas vehicles in the US, holding their annual summit in conjunction with WasteCon 2009, on this week at Long Beach, California.

NGVAmerica’s President Rich Kolodziej told Fleets and Fuels (F&F)- “It is an area of special potential. They use a lot of fuel,” he says, “but don’t clock long distances. They do a lot of idling, and draw a lot of engine power to run compactors.” Kolodziej notes that many carters work under franchise deals and are vulnerable to fuel price increases, such as that which occurred in 2008. “Natural gas has all the benefits they’re looking for,” he says, with price stability at the top of the list.

Tighter environmental regulations are also making natural gas more economical. In an advertising supplement – Natural Gas Trucks – Proven, Reliable Performance, Using Our Abundant, Economical Resource for a Cleaner, Stronger America the organization declares its theme of waste management transportation — “Natural gas-powered refuse and recycling trucks are on the job every day in more than 100 communities all across North America with nearly 3500 in service as of January 2009 and over a thousand more expected to hit the streets in the coming year.

The waste industry is just one of several sectors that are embracing natural gas as a motor fuel.” Kolodziej also pointed to the current practice of flaring biomethane erupting from decomposing landfills as a wasted resource that could be harnessed for vehicle fuel. Although conceding that biomethane remains expensive because of purification costs, Kolodziej observes costs are dropping, and the little-known renewable fuel will likely benefit many vehicle operators in the years to come. “At the head of that line are the trash truck operators,” Kolodziej says.

Source: Fleets and Fuels (F&F)

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Oahu Hawaii Landfill Permit Extended to 2012

The landfill was scheduled to close Nov.,. 1, but the extension of its special use permit to July 31, 2012, gives the city enough time to get a third boiler up and running to accept more trash at the city’s waste-to-energy HPOWER plant.

Commissioners voted 5-3 to approve the extension. The City Council and city administration also are required to hold regular public hearings to inform the community about the progress of having the site close on deadline and any preparation for a new landfill site.

“Officials can face the public and tell them face-to-face: ‘This is what we’re going to do,’” said LUC Vice Chairman Reuben Wong.

The city says the landfill is needed for at least another 15 years while alternative methods are developed for dealing with solid waste. Community residents say the city should stick to promises made in the past to close the landfill.

Both sides presented arguments to the state Land Use Commission during an all-day hearing at  the Waikiki Sheraton.

“A landfill is necessary in order to properly manage solid waste,” said Gary Takeuchi, the city’s deputy corporation counsel. “It doesn’t mean (the city) has been relying solely on that disposal method.”

Takeuchi argued that even when alternative methods such as waste-to-energy conversion and shipping are utilized, a landfill will still be needed in some form, to handle residue from those processes and on an emergency basis.

Officials say the third burner at HPOWER is expected to be up and running by late 2011 or early 2012. After July 31, 2012, only ash and residue from HPOWER would be allowed at Waimanalo Gulch.

State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, representing the Ko Olina Community Association, opposed the continued use of the landfill, at one point urging the Land Use Commission to stand by its ruling from May 2008 that requires the landfill to close on Nov. 1.

“At some point, these words have got to mean something,” she said.

The city Planning Commission has ruled that the special use permit to expand and extend the landfill should be granted for an indefinite amount of time, with conditions requiring the city to start looking for a new landfill site within a year.

The Land Use Commission was not bound by that ruling. Last year — when facing a May 1, 2008, deadline to close the landfill — the Planning Commission recommended a two-year extension, which was trimmed to 18 months by the state agency

Sources: NGV Global News  & WIH Resource Group

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Debate on Clean Energy Leads to Regional Divide

While most lawmakers accept that more renewable energy is needed on the nation’s grid, the debate over the giant climate-change and energy bill now before Congress is exposing a fundamental rift.  For many players, the energy not only has to be clean and free of carbon-dioxide emissions, it also has to be generated nearby.

The division has set off a fight between Eastern and Midwestern politicians and grid officials over parts of the bill dealing with transmission lines and solar and wind energy. Many officials, including President Obama, say that the grid is antiquated and that thousands of miles of new power lines are needed to allow construction of wind farms and solar fields in the most promising spots. Many of the best wind sites are in the Midwest, far from the electric load in populous East Coast cities.

An influential coalition of East Coast governors and power companies fears that building wind and solar sites in the Midwest would cause their region to miss out on jobs and other economic benefits. The coalition is therefore trying to block a mandate for transcontinental lines.

They want the wind farms built in rural New England and offshore from Massachusetts to Delaware, and for now it appears that they may get a chance to do that. They are campaigning to keep a provision out of the legislation that would mandate a huge super-high-voltage grid, with the cost spread among millions of electric customers.

“While we support the development of wind resources for the United States wherever they exist,” the governors warned in a May 4 letter to House and Senate leaders, “this ratepayer-funded revenue guarantee for land-based wind and other generation resources in the Great Plains would have significant, negative consequences for our region.”

Dan W. Reicher, an assistant energy secretary in the Clinton administration who now leads energy initiatives at Google, said the debate exposed a conundrum. “The areas with the most attractive renewable energy resources often don’t overlap with the places where the push for job creation is strongest,” Mr. Reicher said.

For example, a wind machine in North Dakota would produce more energy than the same machine in some Eastern states — but energy projects tend to get built in places where they are most wanted.

The East Coast advocates may have won a crucial first round. When the House passed its sweeping energy and climate-change bill on June 26, it included a provision that lets the federal government overrule state objections to new power lines — but only west of the Rockies. Western states would be unlikely to oppose the new power lines in any case: the region has long been accustomed to huge generation projects built at a great distance from load centers.

But the bill would not give the federal government a mandate to overrule the Eastern states on transmission lines. The issue will be on the table again as the Senate takes up the bill in the next few weeks.

A two-year effort by transmission authorities in the eastern half of the country to draw up plans for a strong grid collapsed after grid officials in New York and New England pulled out, saying that the plans were too centered on moving Midwestern energy eastward.

In an interview, Ian A. Bowles, the Massachusetts secretary of energy and environmental affairs, said he questioned “whether or not we need national transmission legislation at all.”

Mr. Bowles suggested that all Congress needed to do was impose a cap on carbon-dioxide emissions and mandate a national renewable energy quota. Then the market could determine whether resources should be in distant spots with long transmission lines or places closer to load centers, he said.

The debate echoes others in past years about whether to build conventional power plants locally or build stronger connections to distant conventional plants.

The governors’ concern, said James B. Robb, a senior vice president of Northeast Utilities, was not only the optimal cost and use of the electricity but also “any fringes that come along with it — the local tax base, local employment, all those kinds of things.”

For years, some planners have talked about a grid powerful enough to allow for “postage-stamp rates,” transmission charges that are small and independent of distance, so that power will be produced wherever it is most economical, even if that is half a continent away from where it is needed. But for local economic reasons some people resisted that idea, even in the days before tapping wind on the plains and sun in the desert became a national goal.

And a weak grid helps some electric companies. Local generators have often been able to charge more by being in the right place at the right time, with no competition because the long-distance lines are already fully loaded, experts say.

“When you have a constrained transmission system and you seek to unconstrain it,” said Mary Ellen Paravalos, the vice president for transmission at National Grid, a New York and New England company, some local parties stand to lose. This is true “even if the wider societal benefit is net positive,” Ms. Paravalos said.

Complicating the debate, many proposed power lines that could carry renewable energy to market could also end up carrying coal-fired power. An improved national grid would end the situation that prevails at many hours in the East today, when coal plants that can produce power cheaply sit idle while cleaner natural gas plants are running full tilt, able to sell their more expensive power because grid traffic is so bad that the coal power cannot reach the market.

That configuration costs consumers money but also reduces emissions of the carbon-dioxide emissions that cause climate change. So contrary to expectations, one effect of a stronger grid, although ardently sought by supporters of renewable energy, could be to push costs down but nudge coal-fired emissions up.

But the basic conflict remains distant energy versus local energy.

“Some states dealing with this issue see it not only as an environmental and least-cost-supply question but also as a potential economic development tool,” said Branko Terzic, a former member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates some power lines.

Mr. Terzic added, “Those three goals are not always concurrent and could be in conflict.”

Source: New York Times

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New York City – Town of Smithtown NY Chooses CNG to Cut Refuse Collection Costs

Faced with rising refuse collection costs, the Town of Smithtown, New York, decided to require its refuse collection contractors to use compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks. It was the first New York municipality to institute such a requirement. On January 1, 2007, the 30 contractor-owned diesel refuse trucks collecting solid waste and recyclables from the town’s 116,000 residents were replaced by 22 CNG models.

Smithtown selected four bidders for seven-year contracts: Brothers Carting, Dejana Industries, Jody Industries, and V. Garafalo Carting. The companies were responsible for buying the new CNG trucks. To offset the higher cost for these trucks versus diesel trucks, the companies had the option of claiming the Federal Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit for up to 80% of the incremental cost. An alliance of local organizations helped the contractors find financing options.

To establish CNG fueling infrastructure, Smithtown partnered with natural gas supplier Clean Energy. With no leasing agreements, access fees, or capital outlay for Smithtown, the contract required Clean Energy to provide the fueling infrastructure and commission local service providers. Because of Smithtown’s new contract with the refuse collectors, Clean Energy had to complete the fueling station in six months–two to four months faster than it usually takes to locate a station, obtain permits, and secure a compressor.

To accomplish this, Clean Energy received permission from the New York Department of Transportation (NYDOT) and Office of General Services to allow expansion of a station in nearby Hauppauge, which Clean Energy already operated for New York State. The Hauppauge expansion supported NYDOT’s goal to increase natural gas use as a vehicle fuel and brought additional revenue to the state of $0.05 per gasoline gallon equivalent. Clean Energy expanded the Hauppauge volumetric gas flow rate from 15 to 2,000 scfm and opened the station within four months.Smithtown entered into an agreement on fuel pricing with Clean Energy through 2013. CNG costs for the refuse trucks started at $2.33 per diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) through 2008 and increase each year to conclude at $2.94 per DGE in 2013. The contracted CNG price could decrease if the price differential between diesel and CNG goes above a set threshold.

“Controlling refuse collection costs for town residents was the primary reason Smithtown chose CNG,” explained the coordinator of the Greater Long Island Clean Cities Coalition. “The commitment from Clean Energy to set a stable fuel price was very important.” Switching to CNG provides environmental and energy-security benefits for Smithtown.

The CNG refuse trucks are projected over the life of the contract to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by 265 tons and particulate matter by 15 tons. Smithtown also expects to displace more than 1.5 million DGE of petroleum-based fuel.The benefits are amplified when other towns adopt a similar strategy. Smithtown’s success inspired nearby Brookhaven to plan the deployment of 67 CNG trucks in 2009 in a similar effort.

Clean Cities inspired Smithtown’s move to CNG. In May 2006, Russell Barnett, Smithtown’s Environmental Protection Director, saw a Clean Cities alternative fuel presentation at the Federation of New York Solid Waste Associations Solid Waste/Recycling Conference & Trade Show in Bolton Landing, New York. The presentation persuaded him that CNG was the best choice for Smithtown’s refuse fleet. For more information, contact Russell Barnett.

Source: United States Department of Energy (DOE)

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