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Renewable energy project receives high marks
 

Company, county officials celebrate success
 

Davidson Gas Producers, the local subsidiary of DTE Biomass Energy, is generating power from the gas collected at the Davidson County Landfill and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

BY VIKKI BROUGHTON HODGES

The Dispatch

Published: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 5:21 p.m.
 

Davidson Gas Producers, the local subsidiary of DTE Biomass Energy at the Davidson County Landfill, is delivering value and environmental benefits through carbon credits and renewable power generation, according to county and DTE officials.
 

The public-private partnership was celebrated at an open house Wednesday afternoon in which the methane gas recovery system at the landfill off Roy Lopp Road in the Holly Grove community was showcased for invited guests. The facility was commissioned in December 2010.
 

Mark Cousino, president of DTE Biomass Energy, said the local facility, an approximately $3.5 million investment, is the sixth for the company in North Carolina. In business since 1988 and headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., DTE Biomass Energy has more about 25 renewable energy facilities across the nation. Its parent company is DTE Energy, an energy holding company with annual revenues exceeding $9 billion and Michigan's largest energy company.
 

“Our largest concentration of assets are in North Carolina,” he said, adding that a business friendly climate, skilled workforce and North Carolina's emphasis on renewable energy were all factors in the company's growth in the state.
 

The General Assembly approved the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) in August 2007, which requires all investor-owned utilities in the state to supply 12.5 percent of 2020 retail electricity sales in North Carolina from renewable energy resources by 2021. That law is also behind the huge solar farm in Linwood that generates power for Duke Energy.
 

Cousino explained that the methane and carbon dioxide naturally produced by the landfill is captured through a system of piping and wells, which is sent to a power generation facility at the site and then sold to Duke Energy.
 

“About 1,500 to 2,000 homes are powered by the energy produced here,” he said.
 

Cousino also lauded county officials for working well with DTE to bring the project to fruition.

“We do believe it's a win-win situation,” he said
.

County Manager Zeb Hanner said it is estimated the county will gain about $200,000 in annual revenue from the project. “We don't have a full year of data yet, but that's the estimate from the sale of electricity and the carbon credits,” he noted.
 

The carbon credits come from the fact that the greenhouse emissions destroyed at the landfill project are equivalent to removing the emissions of about 10,500 passenger vehicles from the road each year. Methane gas generated from landfills is about 20 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.
 

“Those numbers are amazing,” said Davidson County Commissioners' Chairman Sam Watford. “I'm extremely impressed with this facility
 

DTE and Davidson County have a 20-year contract on the renewable energy project.
 

Dwayne Childress, purchasing director for the county, said the county started looking into the renewable energy project after the 2007 state law was passed and paid an engineering firm $20,000 to do an independent study to see if the landfill here would be a viable site.
 

“I'd say that's a pretty good investment,” he said, noting the annual revenue created for the county.
 

Vikki Broughton Hodges can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 214, or at vikki.hodges@the-dispatch.com.


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