Three reciprocating engines that will turn the landfill’s methane gas into usable electricity are being installed at the Cache Creek Landfill.

Three reciprocating engines that will turn the landfill’s methane gas into usable electricity are being installed at the Cache Creek Landfill.

Landfill’s energy-producing engines in place

Wastech has placed three reciprocating engines at the Cache Creek Landfill to turn methane gas into electricity.

Wastech’s long-awaited reciprocating engines are now in place at the Cache Creek Landfill, Coun. Herb Hofer announced while giving his report on the Cache Creek Landfill Advisory Committee at the Nov. 24 Council meeting.

The three engines, first announced in 2012 and expected to be in operation by June 2013, have had a few setbacks along the way.

Mayor John Ranta added that the engines need to be balanced and configured to make sure that they work appropriately before they start converting the landfill’s methane gas into electricity. They also need to have metering capacity in place first so you know what to charge when it starts producing energy for BC Hydro’s grid.

Ranta said they could turn the engines on as Dec. 16, but they still have to get the little details in place. The most likely date is Jan. 2.

“It’s going to mean that we’re no longer flaring methane gas, and people won’t be asking us what we’re going to do with all of the gas we’re burning off,” said Ranta. “That’s the only benefit to Cache Creek.”

Each engine will produces 1.6 mega watts – 4.8 MW in total, or enough electicity to power 4,800 homes for almost 20 years. The electricity goes into BC Hydro’s grid and is not targeted for any specific use or location.

Although Wastech and its parent company, Belkorp, have fronted the money for the engines, they belong to Metro Vancouver, which is expected to reimburse Wastech for the expense. In 2016 when the contract between Metro Vancouver and Wastech expires, the ownership is expected to be transferred back to Wastech. Until then, Metro Vancouver will be collecting the money for the electricity generated – somewhere between $25 to $100 per MW.

One the engines are in operation, the flares that are visible from the highway will be extinguished. Ranta said that he’s been led to believe there will be one enclosed flame remaining to burn off excess methane, but will not be visible.

In 2011, the BC Ministry of Environment asked for an amendment to the Cache Creek Landfill’s operational certificate to require the operators to begin recovering energy from the gas.

Currently, the landfill captures nearly 80 per cent of the landfill gas, up from 50 per cent in early 2011. Provincial regulations require that, by Jan. 1, 2016, all landfills in the province must capture no less than 75 per cent of generated gas.