Garbage to Truck

WVPA flexes power supply to project transforming landfill gas to renewable natural gas

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“One of the advantages of our flexible power supply is the ability to foster these partnerships and projects when the opportunities arise.”

– Albert Taylor,
WVPA Director of Generation

A bus driver munching on a fast-food burger before throwing away the wrapper and bag may unexpectedly encounter the remnants of the meal years later – powering his bus around town.

Through a partnership between Wabash Valley Power Alliance (WVPA) and Kinetrex Energy (Kinetrex), a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, Inc. (KMI), engineering activities began in 2021 on a project to develop renewable natural gas (RNG) from landfill gas. This project involves the construction of three facilities at Indiana landfills designed to transform landfill gas into pipeline-quality natural gas. The RNG generated from the Kinetrex facilities will be sold to the company’s compressed renewable natural gas and liquefied renewable natural gas vehicle transportation customers. Kinetrex will buy the landfill gas from WVPA and invest $146 million in the joint venture that is the first of its kind for WVPA. It’s the latest example of WVPA leveraging its power supply’s flexibility to support the environment and generate revenue to benefit WVPA’s 23 member electric co-ops and the more than 325,000 families and businesses they serve.

“It’s pretty cool that we’re able to take landfill gas, which we are using to generate electricity, and collaborate with another partner to also produce fuel to power natural gas vehicles at the same time,” said Albert Taylor, director of generation for Wabash Valley Power. “One of the advantages of our flexible power supply is the ability to foster these partnerships and projects when the opportunities arise.”

Wabash Valley Power has for two decades included landfill gas as a resource in its power supply portfolio. WVPA employees five years ago learned about landfill gas being used to generate RNG. A few years later, Kinetrex officials began to discuss a collaboration using WVPA’s landfill gas to produce RNG.

“Transportation companies with fleet vehicles including buses and trucks powered by natural gas have been among the largest RNG buyers,” Taylor said. “Natural gas utilities and businesses such as colleges that have sustainability goals also have been large-scale purchasers.”

RNG producers also generate a renewable identification number, or RIN, alongside the RNG. RINs are similar to renewable energy credits (RECs) created by the production of renewable energy such as wind or solar power. After renewable natural gas is created, the producers can sell the RINs to help organizations support the production of renewable energy.

“We are pleased to join WVPA, which has a long history in the landfill gas space, on this initiative to bring additional renewable fuels and low-carbon solutions to the marketplace,” said Aaron Johnson, president of renewable natural gas for KMI. “We expect these facilities will produce renewable fuels that will ultimately replace approximately 28 million gallons of traditional diesel each year, lowering greenhouse gas emissions by about 280,000 tons. That’s like taking 60,000 vehicles off the road annually – a significant contribution toward reducing methane emissions.”

The project is another development in WVPA’s ongoing commitment to a greener future. In 2021, WVPA announced its decarbonization strategy with a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Our involvement in the renewable natural gas development project with Kinetrex affords the production of alternative energy resources that will benefit our environment,” said Matt Moore, executive vice president of power supply for WVPA. “As our industry continues the transition to a sustainable future, enabling the creation of renewable energy is a significant point of pride for our organization.”