Dane County Executive Joe Parisi recently announced that Kwik Trip will be one of the primary dispensers of the renewable vehicle fuel generated by the county’s landfill biogas project when it reaches completion later this year. Parisi made the announcement during a press conference in front of Kwik Trip’s compressed natural gas (CNG) station in Verona on Feb. 21.
When finished, Dane County’s landfill biogas project will be able to turn trash and cow manure into renewable fuel and inject it into an interstate transmission pipeline so it can be bought and sold to power fleets of CNG vehicles. Through Kwik Trip’s partnership with Dane County, the company will be able to dispense renewable CNG fuel from the pipeline, sell it at the company’s growing list of CNG fueling stations, and power vehicles locally and across the Midwest.
“Our project at the landfill will be a win for clean air as well as Dane County taxpayers,” said Parisi. “Dane County’s partnership with Kwik Trip will enable our region to reap the benefits of the renewable fuel generated at the landfill.”
Biogas contains about 50 percent methane and is created when garbage at a landfill breaks down. While methane is a harmful greenhouse gas pollutant, it also makes up about 98 percent of natural gas, so biogas can be used as a renewable energy source. Dane County’s landfill biogas facility will enable the county to convert its landfill biogas into vehicle fuel, thereby eliminating thousands of tons of carbon emissions, a leading cause to the extreme weather events triggered by climate change.
Dane County’s landfill biogas project will displace 3,000,000 gallons of fossil fuels in the first year of operation, with this number growing to 4,000,000 gallons per year in future years. Due to renewable CNG having a lower carbon footprint, this is equivalent to taking 4,800 cars off the road. This is a carbon dioxide emission reduction equal to over 24,000,000 pounds of coal burned. In addition to the project’s environmental benefits, it is estimated that Dane County will generate enough revenue from the project to payback its $28 million cost of the project in just a few years.
“Kwik Trip is proud to partner with Dane County and Bluesource on this progressive, innovative, and collaborative sustainability initiative involving the transformation of the county’s landfill biogas into the development of renewable natural gas,” said David Ring, community relations manager at Kwik Trip. “We view this as a win-win partnership that will allow us to provide a cleaner fuel source for our customers and create a significant benefit for the environment in the form of reduced carbon emissions. This partnership makes a positive difference in the communities we serve and fits well with Kwik Trip’s other integrated sustainability initiatives.”
Kwik Trip is headquartered in La Crosse and already uses CNG to power its fleet of vehicles. The fleet is comprised of over 80 percent natural gas vehicles that deliver products to stores every day. Kwik Trip began offering compressed natural gas in 2012. With more than 45 stores and 1,300 coworkers in Dane County, Kwik Trip is well-equipped to take advantage of this renewable natural resource. CNG fuel technology has been in place and is available now for commercial and passenger vehicles. Kwik Trip has CNG available in Verona and Windsor, along with 19 other stores in Wisconsin, and 35 CNG locations total in the upper Midwest.
This partnership will be made possible through Dane County’s contract with Bluesource, a company that brings firms together to monetize renewable energy and environmental attributes to reduce and mitigate environmental impacts. As one of Bluesource’s clients, Kwik Trip will be able to purchase the fuel and use it for the company’s operations.
“As North America’s oldest and largest environmental attribute developer, Bluesource is delighted and proud to partner with Dane County on this industry leading RNG project,” said Kevin Townsend, chief commercial officer of the company. “It’s encouraging and rewarding to experience first-hand Dane County’s leadership in bringing this project through to fruition.”
Dane County’s new facility will also have a biogas offloading station to allow other biogas producers, like manure digesters, to inject their gas into the pipeline. This Dane County project is the first in the nation to be able to receive biogas from multiple off-site locations and connect that renewable gas with CNG gas stations locally and across the nation. Before being hauled to the landfill for injection into the interstate pipeline, the gas will need to be purified and compressed by the owner’s equipment.
Digesters reduce greenhouse gas emissions by collecting methane that would otherwise be emitted to the atmosphere. They also help farms manage manure more responsibly, which reduces harmful runoff to lakes and streams. Due to the increased revenue opportunities for local digesters, this offloading station is expected to create an economic incentive for owners of “Cow Power” facilities in the area to convert their operations to vehicle fuel production, which will spur the development of more digesters in the area, and significantly increase Dane County’s lakes clean-up efforts.
The county’s 2018 budget included the final phase of funding totaling $28 million for Dane County to build the biogas processing facility at its landfill and connect it with the adjacent interstate pipeline. Of those funds, $5.5 million went toward building the gas off-loading station for other biogas producers to inject their cleaned up fuel. The 2018 county budget also included a $200,000 study to look into where additional digesters could be located to process manure into biogas.
A resolution for Dane County’s contract with Bluesource was introduced at last week’s county board meeting. The board’s approval process of the contract will take place over the next few weeks.