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Article 45

June 25. 2008 9:00AM

Board OKs landfill gas project

By SETH STRATTON
The Dispatch

A partnership between the county and a pair of companies to capture methane gas emitting from the county landfill and convert it into energy will add about $200,000 in revenues to the county's pocketbook each year and help prevent greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere.

The Davidson County Board of Commissioners voted to approve a 20-year contract with North Carolina-based Enerdyne Power Systems and DTE Biomass Energy, a utility headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Last fall, Bill Brinker, Enerdyne's president, proposed to build a methane collection system at the Davidson County landfill consisting of several vertical and horizontal methane-capturing wells about 70 feet down from the surface of a 100-foot-deep landfill. The wells will collect methane, a colorless, smokeless and odorless gas which is the main component of natural gas and is produced when trash decomposes. The resulting reduction in methane could help the county's poor air quality rating improve.

The county hired Richardson Smith Gardner & Associates, a Raleigh-based engineering firm, to review proposals after a suggestion from Charlie Brushwood, the county landfill director at a commissioners' meeting in November. After tabulating the bids, Matt Lamb, a project manager with the engineering firm, estimated the county's annual revenues from collecting the gas to be $200,398 a year.

"That greatly exceeded my expectations," Commissioner Sam Watford said about the estimated revenue to the county.

Brushwood said the collection system wouldn't interfere with any operations at the landfill. Enerdyne and DTE Biomass Energy will be responsible for the operations and maintenance of the collection system. The two companies have a combined seven active landfill collection projects in the state, the closest being in Winston-Salem.

According to its Web site, DTE's Winston-Salem facility produces 4.3 megawatts of energy from 2.8 million cubic feet of landfill gas per day, enough to power 4,400 homes served by Duke Power, which purchases the electricity produced from the landfill.

At the November meeting, Brinker said the system would cost about $1 million to install and between $120,000 and $150,000 a year to operate and maintain. Brushwood said the county adds about 100,000 tons of trash a year to the landfill, about 350 to 400 tons a day. The county has accumulated more than 1.4 million tons of trash at the landfill.

In other news, commissioners:

Recognized Elizabeth Candice Hester, a recent Western Carolina University graduate, as the 74th recipient of the county's teaching scholarship award.

Transferred more than $7 million from the general fund to the county's capital reserve fund to reflect a 20 percent general fund balance in the county's bank account. The $7 million will go toward different capital projects.

Approved several pyrotechnics permits for various fireworks shows planned within the county during July and August. The board also authorized Lexington and Thomasville to issue pyrotechnic permits within the two cities' corporate limits.

Adopted a resolution supporting a right-hand turn lane off West Lexington Avenue Extension into the entrance of Ledford Middle School. Guy Cornman, county planning director, told commissioners traffic backs up to the road's intersection with N.C. Highway 109 during the beginning and end of each school day.

The N.C. Department of Transportation has secured $182,000 toward the cost of the project, and N.C. DOT Division 9 Engineer Pat Ivey plans to take the request to the state transportation board at its July 9 meeting. A gravel right-hand-turn lane was recently added, but a paved lane should be in place before the 2008-09 school year begins.

Set a public hearing to modify the conditional use-rural commercial district for an auto crushing and metal recycling facility owned by David and Margaret Pugh off Bud Sink Road. The hearing is set for the commissioners' Sept. 8 meeting, which begins at 7 p.m.

The property has been the center of complaints ranging from traffic congestion and noise to increased littering on the road in the past several months. The Pughs have been working with the N.C. DOT for a new traffic pattern. The existing conditional use permit will need to be amended to include a larger commercial district to accommodate the new traffic pattern.

Three other property rezonings in Arcadia and Conrad Hill townships are set for the commissioners' Aug. 4 meeting, which also will begin at 7 p.m.

Approved the purchase of one acre from the Reece family for a new emergency services base off Georgetown Road next to the existing Wallburg Fire Department for a total of $90,000.

Awarded bids to Bar Construction Co. with a total project budget of more than $3.2 million for classroom additions at East Davidson High School, and to Jarrell Contractors with a total project budget of more than $4.2 million for an addition to E. Lawson Brown Middle School. The two projects are the last two scheduled improvements for the Davidson County Schools paid out of the 2005 school bond funds.

Designated Watford as the county's voting delegate to the National Association of Counties annual conference next month in Kansas City, Mo.

Agreed to receive a grant from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund in the amount of $10,000 on behalf of the Handy Sanitary District for the design and permitting of a small sewer project.

Re-appointed Watford to serve an additional three-year term on the county Department of Social Services board; re-appointed Dr. Peter Rogaski and Dr. Mark Davis to the county Board of Health and Lt. Ray Widener with the Thomasville Police Department, Tim Tilley, a clinical supervisor with Family Services of Davidson County, and Capt. Tony Roberson of the Davidson County Sheriff's Office to the Community Child Protection Team.

Scheduled a public hearing for the Davidson County Transportation Department's 2008-09 Rural Operating Assistance Program grant application at the commissioners' Aug. 12 meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.

Postponed a sewer rate increase planned to take affect next month. Watford and the other commissioners unanimously agreed to analyze a base fee the county was going to implement for its few hundred sewer customers to help offset costs. Watford was concerned that customers would be paying a fee on top of their monthly water and sewer usage.

The county commissioners will not meet in July. Their next scheduled meeting is a public hearing on Aug. 4 at 7 p.m.

Seth Stratton can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 226, or seth.stratton@the-dispatch.com.

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