Catoosa Commission Moves Forward With Sewer Expansion, OKs Overhauling Methane Plant

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - by Mike O'Neal

Catoosa County’s Board of Commissioners has approved the condemnation of property, if necessary, to extend sewers in the area around Three Notch Road and authorized the major overhaul of an electric generating plant at the county landfill.


“This is part of the process that must be followed if easements must be obtained by condemnation,” County Attorney Chad Young said.

“This is a first step in the process.”


Commission Chairman Keith Greene said he hopes the resolution authorizing condemnation does not mean sewer lines will be run across private property without the owner’s consent.


“Hopefully, we can reach an agreement and move forward without going to court,” he said.


Commissioner Jim Cutler said some of the property owners are currently in negotiations with Ringgold’s city manager, Dan Wright, about allowing the work to advance without delay.


Carl Henson, the county’s finance director, asked that the commissioners approve spending more than $50,000 to perform major maintenance on a methane gas-powered generator installed at the county landfill.


Since the landfill’s Site 1 closed in 1998 and Site 2 was capped in 2004, methane produced has been a problem where all solutions are expensive.


The annual cost to maintain the capped Shope Ridge Road sites and hire outside contractors to monitor its gases, as required by state and federal regulations, was about $250,000 before the power plant was installed.


Rather than burn gases collected by the system of wells and piping at the landfill as an open flame, the odorless but potentially lethal gas is being used to generate electric power.


Methane gas produced by decomposing garbage is fueling generators that produce electricity which is purchased by the Tennessee Valley Authority at a 3 cents per kilowatt-hour premium above the retail rate.


TVA has been buying about $50,000 of electric power from the county each month, Mr. Henson said, but the methane generator is quickly approaching 10,000 hours of operation and is due for major maintenance.


Mr. Henson said that while the maintenance would be performed for a fee of $13,781 by Nixon Energy, it is recommended that the generator’s $29,099 turbocharger be replaced during the scheduled maintenance.


New turbochargers must be ordered from the Austrian company that fabricates the generator since none are available in the United States, he said.


Having a replacement on hand before overhauling the generator begins will mean the county does not lose two weeks of power sales to TVA.


Mr. Henson also said the turbocharger that will be replaced can be rebuilt at a facility in Atlanta, returned to Catoosa County and kept ready for the next scheduled maintenance or in case of turbo failure.


Chairman Greene asked if the advance purchase of any other critical components should be considered and was told only the turbocharger is not available outside Europe.


The commissioners approved spending a total of $50,162 for the purchase of a new turbocharger, rebuilding of the existing turbo and the major maintenance.

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