Firm Pitches Plans for City Landfill Gas

Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Lebanon — Valley Green Natural Gas, one of two companies vying to become the natural gas utility serving Lebanon and Hanover, met with city staff on Friday to offer some suggestions as to how the city might convert gas produced by the landfill to energy.

The landfill gas discussion came as staff for the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission continue their review of proposals from Valley Green and Liberty Utilities, which includes EnergyNorth Natural Gas — the state’s largest natural gas distribution utility — to serve the two Upper Valley communities with natural gas.

Both companies propose to truck natural gas to a depot in Lebanon and distribute it to customers through a local pipeline.

Valley Green president Jay Campion said he views the discussion of what the city might do with its landfill gas as “totally unrelated” to the company’s pipeline proposal under the PUC’s consideration. Providing such a service would not be regulated by the PUC, he said.

Even if the commission denies Valley Green’s franchise proposal, Campion said, his company would plan to provide natural gas storage and distribution by truck from his Etna Road property.

“There’s a market for the gas that’s being generated by a bunch of ... facilities around the area (including those in Montreal and Pennsylvania),” Campion said.

Valley Green has an agreement in place with Gulf Oil Limited Partnership to truck liquefied natural gas to Lebanon from the Marcellus shale formation in Pennsylvania.

Providing storage in Lebanon would offer smaller businesses the opportunity to access natural gas as an energy source without requiring the investment needed to install 15,000-gallon storage tanks, Campion said.

Only companies using a large quantity of energy — such as Pike Industries asphalt plant on Route 12A — currently are using natural gas in Lebanon.

On Friday, Campion presented city officials with a study prepared by Ralph Greenberg Consulting Engineers. The report outlined four possible ways the city might convert the 335 to 345 standard cubic feet per minute of gas produced by the Lebanon landfill to energy. The landfill is currently using a flare system to burn off the gas.

The four possibilities include injecting the landfill gas into Valley Green’s proposed pipeline system, converting the landfill gas to liquefied natural gas and storing it, delivering the landfill gas directly to a user, and using the gas to produce electricity.

Because of lower upfront and operating costs, the idea of converting the gas to electricity seems most appealing, Campion said.

The gas produced by the landfill would be sufficient to produce 980 kilowatts (.98 megawatts) annually, according to the study. One megawatt of power generates enough electricity to power roughly 750 homes, according to the California Energy Commission’s website.

In concordance with the city’s master plan, city officials would like to make use of the gas produced at the landfill, said City Councilor Clifton Below, who is also chairman of the Lebanon Energy Advisory 

“It’s kind of exciting to turn something that was a waste byproduct (in)to something that could be useful,” Below said.

Now that the city has the flare system in place, the next step is to determine the “most beneficial use of (the landfill gas) for the city and its residents,” he said.

To do so, Below said, the city’s energy committee may develop a framework for evaluating the pros and cons of the various possibilities, which include the city running the gas-to-energy conversion system itself or contracting with a private company such as Valley Green to do so.

Even if the city decides to operate the system itself, he said, the city would likely go through a bidding process to select a company to develop the system.

Though Below — a former PUC commissioner — served as a consultant to Valley Green for part of last year, his affiliation with the company ended in October, he said.

Liberty Utilities, which would construct its depot south of the Lebanon landfill, has proposed to capture the gas currently being flared at the landfill and distribute it to customers through its planned pipeline system, Liberty Utilities spokesman John Shore said in an email Monday. It would not be converted to electricity, he said.

While the city considers its next steps regarding the landfill gas, Campion said, he plans to move forward with plans to construct a vehicle refueling station on his Etna Road property, which he hopes might begin as soon as April. Such a plan would require approval from the city’s Planning Board.

The PUC’s hearings of both companies’ franchise petitions are scheduled for March.

Both proposals have been greeted with skepticism from some community members who say investment in new natural gas infrastructure will only delay investment in renewable energy.

Energy and climate change are topics of two gatherings set to take place this week.

The question of what a renewable energy future might look like will be addressed at a forum on Wednesday co-sponsored by the Sierra Club Upper Valley Group, Energy and Climate-Upper Valley, NextGen Climate, Donella Meadows Institute, Dartmouth Sustainability office and Dartmouth Club of the Upper Valley. The event is set to take place at 7 p.m. at Dartmouth College in Filene Auditorium at Moore Hall in Hanover.

Also on Wednesday, Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission, Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission, Vital Communities and Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup are set to consider strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change. That meeting is set to take place at 5:30 p.m. at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at or 603-727-3213.


Ralph Greenberg Consulting Engineers prepared the landfill gas study Valley Green Natural Gas presented to Lebanon city officials last week. The engineering firm was incorrectly identified in an earlier version of this story.

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