Chambersburg residents have been using electricity from a landmark landfill-gas-to-electricity power plant at Progressive Waste’s Blue Ridge Landfill in Scotland for five years now.
Next year, they will pay less for that electricity.
Energy Power Partners (EPP) now owns the generation facility, originally developed by a division of the PPL Corporation. Chambersburg and EPP are extending the original 2011 contract, which would have ended at the end of 2022.
“This power comes from the gas generated by ‘recycling’ the Borough’s waste,” said Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill. “Recycled gas-to-electricity is good for the environment and, in this case, provides baseload electricity for our Borough power system, saving us from having to buy power off the grid.”
The borough runs Pennsylvania’s largest public power system, according to Stonehill, who also serves as Chambersburg’s Director of Utilities.
The original arrangement with PPL included the Borough’s construction of a power line, dubbed “the extension cord.” That line delivers electricity from the landfill to the Borough. An Alternative Energy Grant from Pennsylvania’s Financing Authority paid for that line. GMS Funding Solutions of Carlisle represented the Borough of Chambersburg on that grant application.
Borough Solicitor Bryan Salzmann of Salzmann Hughes said of the extension cord:
“The Borough and Commonwealth invested in this important component of the project. We want to make sure that it continues to provide alternative energy for the Chambersburg community for years to come.”
Best yet, according to Borough Electric Department Superintendent Ronald Pezon, the contract extension lowers the price of the energy that local residents consume from the project.
“The new arrangement with EPP allows the Borough to purchase this electricity at a significant discount, saving the Borough $7.8 million in power costs over the next twelve-plus years,” Pezon said. ”Such a significant savings leads directly to lower electricity bills for our customers.”
Reducing Electricity Rates
The proposed 2020 budget includes a 1.98% across-the-board reduction in retail rates for Borough electric customers.
“This would be the fourth electric rate reduction in the past seven years,” Stonehill said. The typical residential customer will save about $2 month a month on their electric bill.
Methane-to-energy systems at landfills have a dual benefit for the environment, Stonehill said. They generate electricity from renewable fuel while eliminating emissions of methane, a gas that may contribute to global climate change.
The Scotland power plant prevents the release of the equivalent of 33,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
Chambersburg has been acquiring the full output of the electricity under a Purchased Power Agreement (PPA) for an initial 10-year term.
The contract, initially set to run from 2013-2022 at a fixed price of $63/MWh, has no additional delivery or congestion fees since the connection is made directly to a substation within Chambersburg’s power system.
From the beginning, there was the potential to invest in further future generation over an extended term of the agreement.
The new price will be $51/MWh for all hours fixed. More importantly, The borough negotiated that price starting January 1, 2020.
Stonehill said the overall cost savings over the current contract price is an estimated $7.8 million.
The Borough will save $600,000 a year starting in January.
What’s more, all the protections of the original agreement have stayed in place.
True Cost of Power
Pezon estimates the true cost of power for the contract extension to be approximately $43/MWh.
“This is a very competitive power supply cost and reflects the behind the meter nature of the project,” he said.
The electric energy produced from this facility represents an approximate 15% slice of all the power in Chambersburg.
“This means,” according to Stonehill, “that 15% of all the electricity in Chambersburg is from a renewable green energy source.”
The Chambersburg Town Council entered into this contract extension with EPP at a public meeting this week.
Present at the meeting was Steve Gabrielle, Partner at EPP, to thank the Borough for this project extension.
“Harnessing landfill gas to create renewable electricity provides many benefits to the Borough, its residents and the entire Commonwealth,” he said.
- The project provides a sustainable, lower carbon supply of energy.
- It increases Chambersburg’s energy independence from the utility grid.
- It provides a long-term financial benefit.
Town Council President Heath Talhelm called the partnership “very important.” He said extending the project extends the borough’s commitment to renewable energy and lower electric rates.
Stonehill said the savings from the contract extension will begin as early as February 2020. The electric bills issued in February 2020 for January 2020 electric usage will reflect the decrease.
Questions about the landfill gas-to power project? Call Ronald Pezon, Electric Department Superintendent, at 717-251-2426 or email@example.com