Article left many questions


To The Editor:
Thank you for your article about the shutting of the Delaware County Electric Cooperative (DCEC) landfill gas-to-electricity plant. It explained more than the co-op’s newsletter. But it still leaves me with questions. And, it is unfortunate that the article didn’t mention that members of the co-op are paying two percent higher rates because of the failed waste-to-energy project.

It is quite a shame that this project didn’t work out, because landfills are the U.S.’s third-largest source of releases of greenhouse gas, methane (after the oil and gas industry, and dairy and cattle farming). This project burned methane to generate electricity and in the process converted the methane to carbon dioxide which has 21 times lower global warming potential than methane (averaged over 100 years).

Locally we obviously have a direct stake in global warming, having suffered three “hundred-year” floods in our area in the past two decades. Nationally and internationally we have seem more frequent or intense droughts, heat waves, hurricanes, ocean rising and flooding, and Arctic melting in recent years. So it is a shame when even small efforts like the co-op’s fail, and fail expensively to its members, including me.

Your article mentions that Delaware County is considering installing a smaller generator more appropriate to the smaller amounts of gas being released than the uneconomical larger one that the co-op installed.

Did the co-op already examine this option? It has already paid for the installation of the sophisticated gas collection system and it would be nice if we could earn back some of these costs, even if it’s over a much longer time frame, in addition to the environmental advantage.

Your article also mentioned that the county was considering using the gas to run county vehicles. Couldn’t the co-op use its collection system to do this itself if that is more economical than electric generation; it should have the same environmental benefit?

Has the co-op looked at other micro generation projects like converting methane to electricity from the many manure ponds at local dairy/cattle farms? Or considered micro hydro plants at the small, unused dams in our region?

The co-op’s newsletter mentioned that another reason that the waste-to-energy facility was uneconomical was because of “lower than expected energy prices.” Your article didn’t mention this and I’m wondering if this is because of the dramatic increase nationally in electric generation from hydrofracked gas, which is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in addition to its myriad other environmental and social problems.

Whatever happened to the separate corporation that DCEC set up to work with the highly problematic wind towers that were supposed to be installed in Stamford and Roxbury? The former CEO, Greg Starheim, was the co-op’s rep to that corporation. Has the new CEO, Mark Schneider, replaced him on that board or has that corporation and project been dissolved?

The co-op has worked with NYSERDA on a few environmentally-sensitive efforts in our area and I wonder what economic and environmental effects they are having?

Michael Kaufman,