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OII LANDFILL MICROTURBINE POWER PLANT: CASE STUDY
The Operating Industries, Inc. (OII) Landfill is a closed landfill located 12 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, California. It is now a USEPA Superfund site. Prior attempts to utilize the landfill gas at this site for energy generation had been hampered by a requirement for 99.99% destruction and removal efficiency (DRE) at the thermal oxidizer (flare) exhaust. A solution was proposed, and approved by USEPA, in which the exhaust from microturbines could be directed into the flare thereby meeting the DRE. In addition, other design issues had to be overcome, e.g., the typical methane percentage of OII’s landfill gas is low, ranging from about 25% to 28%. Microturbines can only operate at methane contents as low as 30%. In order to overcome this, a dedicated pipeline carrying richer portions of the landfill gas was routed to the microturbines.
If permitted by the utility, excess power produced by the power generation equipment can flow into the utility's distribution system and several options were available. The option selected was to set a negotiated maximum amount of power that could be exported to the utility, but with the utility not required to pay for the power. Project financial risk was mitigated through risk sharing contracts with the constructor and the vendor. Prior to the initiation of construction, a $105,000 grant was secured from the California Energy Commission (CEC). A subsequent grant for $450,000 was obtained from the local electric utility. The power plant first produced electric power in late August 2002, approximately six months after execution of the turnkey contract. In January 2002, the plant was online nearly full time. In addition to recovering $555,000 in grants, savings have recently approached $30,000 per month in avoided electrical costs.
The Operating Industries, Inc. (OII) Landfill is a closed landfill located 12 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, California. The site was opened in 1948 and continued in operation until 1984. Subsequently, it was placed on the National Priorities List in 1986 and designated a Superfund site whose remediation is currently under the direction of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The landfill has remediation underway with regard to the landfill gas, stormwater, landfill cover and groundwater. It currently produces approximately 5,500 scfm of landfill gas which has been treated with a thermal oxidizer capable of a destruction and removal efficiency (DRE) of 99.99%. Any attempt to utilize the landfill gas for energy generation in the past was hampered by the requirement for 99.99% DRE.
In July 2001, the California Public Utility Commission (CaPUC) allowed the local utility serving OII, the Southern California Edison Company (SCE), to raise its retail rate from 10¢/kWh to 14¢/kWh. As a result of this increase, OII's annual power cost increased to $440,000. SCS Energy (SCS) proposed that a power generation feasibility study be undertaken, and New Cure, Inc. (NCI), the contractor for the Work Defendants, authorized SCS to undertake a feasibility study.
At the outset, the following boundaries were set on the study:
• Limit the Project's Size to the On-Site Load: SCE was not buying power, and even if SCE was buying power, a "retail deferral" type project would have a lower capital cost and a higher return on investment;
Jeffrey L. Pierce, P.E.
Vice President SCS Energy Long Beach, California
Les LaFountain, Ph.D.
New Cure, Inc. Monterey Park, California
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