The Pestoni family has been operating solid waste and recycling processing throughout Upper Napa County since1963. This year, they are celebrating their 50th anniversary by blowing out a giant candle. No, not the candle on a cake, but rather the methane flare located at the base of Clover Flat Landfill in the unincorporated near Calistoga. The methane gas will now be recovered and converted into renewable electricity, instead of simply being burned off, which results in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
When the flame goes out, the methane gas will be switched over to channel through a process of heating, cooling and purification before entering into a GE Jenbacher engine for conversion. The electricity generated will be captured and sent down a power line to connect with PG&E. An estimated one-megawatt of green garbage power will be returned to the community from which it was produced. Now that’s sustainability at work!
The project brings together a variety of efforts to meet, and in some cases exceed, state mandates and local policies aimed at reducing GHG emissions, reducing consumption and solid waste, achieving overall waste diversion of 75% to 90% by 2020, improving the energy supply by switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and conserving agricultural resources, natural resources, and urban forest.
“Landfills are considered a large greenhouse gas emitter; we are working to change the bad rap they get and do something positive with the gas,” said Christy Abreu, education director for Clover Flat Resource Recovery Park. “This has been no easy feat. The transition from a landfill to a recovery park and power source has been in the works for many years. This kind of collaboration takes support and a commitment from the community, elected officials and mindful organizations like SNC as well as a good relationship with PG&E.”
The process of dealing with the methane gas from the landfill started in the early 1990s, when monitoring wells and the flare were mandated for landfills like Clover Flat that reached the one million ton mark. Burning the gas through the flare at 1,600° was a cleaner option than allowing the gas to just vent into the air.
The permit modifications and changes to be able to use the gas for electricity were approved nearly four years ago and the Jenbacher engine was purchased in 2011. Clover Flat Resource Recovery Park is in the final stretch, with plans to connect with PG&E as soon as next month and begin sending power to the grid by the end of the year.