A Henrico County-based energy company is seeking rights to build an electricity-producing plant at the Springfield Road Landfill near Short Pump. Ingenco intends to build a plant that will capture methane gas produced by the decaying heaps of garbage and turn it into electricity. The facility will be able to produce 4,000 kilowatts of electricity an hour, […]
A Henrico County-based energy company is seeking rights to build an electricity-producing plant at the Springfield Road Landfill near Short Pump. Ingenco intends to build a plant that will capture methane gas produced by the decaying heaps of garbage and turn it into electricity.
The facility will be able to produce 4,000 kilowatts of electricity an hour, or about enough juice to power 2,000 homes. Ingenco plans to sell to power companies.
The company is seeking a conditional use permit, which will be considered by the Board of Zoning Appeals on Sept. 24.
“Landfills make gas, and it’s a nuisance to the community,” said Alan Petersen, the company’s vice president of development. “We want to build a facility that can take the gas to produce electrical power and pay the county handsomely for collecting and maximizing the capture of the gas.”
Ingenco will buy the gas from the county for between $200,000 and $400,000 in annual revenue, which will go to the Public Utilities department. The exact price is tied to the market price for natural gas. The county is also leasing the plant site to Ingenco for a renewable 15-year term.
Petersen said the company is ready to invest several million in the construction and site work for the new facility; an exact figure isn’t ready, as estimates are still being received. He said he the plant is expected to be operational by the end of spring.
Ingenco is one of the earliest alternative energy companies in the state and has been in the power generation business for 20 years. Nine years ago, the company started specializing in capturing methane gas from landfills. The company is owned by a private equity group.
“We began in that arena before it was fashionable,” said Petersen. The company has facilities as far away as Seattle and is developing plants in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina. The company has more than a dozen plants in the Richmond area.
Stephen Yob, the Henrico director of solid waste removal, said the county is required by government regulations to capture and dispose of the methane, which is currently done by burning it.
“It’s a lot of gas,” Yob said. “We have a 10-foot flame that burns blue-white hot all the time.”
The landfill produces about 800 cubic feet of methane gas every minute.
“It’s a wasted resource, so this is a great opportunity for us to take that wasted resource and produce electricity. Ingenco can make some money on their end and make revenue for us, so it’s a win-win,” Yob said.
Yob said the county has pursued similar projects in the past, but the economics of those proposals just didn’t work.
“This particular time, we had quite a few very good qualified proposals,” Yob said.
Ingenco had an advantage because it is based in the county and could get the job done faster and cheaper. “They gave us a very nice proposal,” Yob said.