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Green Energy Could Mean More Green For Tulare


tulare green 2015-03-04 at 4.01.42 PMThe City of Tulare has a massive electricity bill at $1.2 million annually and a huge volume of waste gas coming from their wastewater treatment plants. Former city Public Works Director Lew Nelson recognized that and worked for years to promote green energy as a partial solution.

Now over a year after Nelson left to be an independent consultant City Manager Don Dorman appears to moving in that direction proposing more green energy projects that could save the city some real ’green.’

The city’s new public works director is Joe Carlini who is wasting no time looking to turn waste into revenue

This month Carlini is proposing to stop flaring 800,000 cubic feet of waste methane gas a day into the Valley air instead looking for a company who might take that gas and buy it or make electricity with it and sell it to the city

Instead of maintaining equipment that simply spews these emissions  skyward, the city could gain $250,000 to $500,000 a year if they sell it.  This month responses to a recent Request For Proposals will be due by end of month and some 12 firms have expressed interest.

That’s not all.

Mr Carlini is proposing several other green energy projects building on what Tulare already has in place including the existing fuel cells and a cogen plant.

Among the future plans – add another one megawatt of solar panels to be built near the WWT plant adding to the one MW farm already working.

Bringing back the idea of adding a battery storage facility for use at peak electricity times to further cut their SCE bill.

Here is the list of possible projects being discussed at the city Board of Utilities meetings March 7 & March 21.

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“We are going to maximize the use and production of energy” said Carlini in a video presentation on the city website.

Carlini says they hope to cut that big power bill by 20% with a series of green energy measures.

Carlini has had some success in turning waste into a revenue source with a project to sell their Class A solids to company who will haul it away saving the city  40% annually on $600,000 paid out last year to haul the solids away.

In the current RFP, one company is ready to buy that excess biogas – Colony Energy, who is planning on building a digester on leased land from the city. The digester will generate gas from inputs including dairy manure, food waste and other material. Colony will clean that gas to be injected into the SoCal Gas pipeline for sale, the first biomethane gas injection done by Edison statewide.

Principal Matt Schmitt says Colony’s $20 million project already has $8 million in grants due to the innovative technology in place that will cut greenhouse gas emissions – a possible model for others to follow.

“We should be under construction on the project this summer”says Schmitt who would be ready to buy Tulare’s excess biogas as well, to be sold to customers.

One option mentioned by Schmitt – city waste haulers could bring their food waste to Tulare and leave with biogas fueling their trucks in the deal. Municipalities are under the gun to cut their carbon emissions.

The city may have other takers for the gas as well with 12 firms touring the facility in the past month.

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