Project spotlight: Worcester County Landfill Gas-to-Energy Project

  • December 7, 2010
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It’s that time of year again! The holiday season also signals the annual verification cycle for a number of our projects. We thought we’d get into some of the nitty-gritty details about what goes on in a verification, so that the next time you’re asked to explain “high quality” carbon offsets at the dinner table with all your relatives (wait, that doesn’t happen to you?), you’ll sound really impressive. Besides, *WE* know exactly where our carbon credits come from, and we want to make sure you do too.

We’re casting the spotlight on our Worcester County Landfill project, which captures methane from landfill waste and converts the gas to electricity. There are some other really cool features of this project, including the leachate reinjection used that accelerates decomposition of waste and the “landfill re-use” model, but we’re going to just focus on the verification aspects today.

In order to create high quality carbon credits from the Worcester County Landfill, TerraPass follows the rules of the Climate Action Reserve’s (CAR) Landfill Project Protocol, which tells us what things to monitor and when. During the day-to-day operation of a project, data is collected through meters that continuously measure gas flow and methane content. At Worcester, methane data is recorded every 7 minutes, which is twice as often as CAR’s rules require. Data on gas flow and methane concentration is then reported on a quarterly basis to TerraPass’ Carbon (Management Services) Team, who makes sure that the project is operating smoothly. We take all of that data, crunch it through CAR’s formulas to come up with a tonnage estimate of reduced emissions from greenhouse gases, prepare a monitoring report, and submit our compiled report and data package to an independent, third-party auditor, also known in the carbon world as a “verifier” (in Worcester’s case, First Environment). The final step is for our verifier to conduct an on-site project audit, which involves going to the site with our TerraPass folks and checking that our flares and meters are working accurately and are being properly cleaned and maintained.

One of our lead Project Managers on the Carbon Team, Nicole Schuetz, recently returned from the site visit. Nicole spent a day at the landfill site, checking flow meters, observing field calibrations, and being interviewed about our work by First Environment. As the lead PM, she knows the ins and outs of every detail on this project, and is in active communication with the day-to-day project operator.

She summarized TerraPass’ role as a project originator quite nicely: “Our job boils down to consistently evaluating the project’s operating quality, to ensure everything is held up to the rigorous standards set forth by the Climate Action Reserve.” This has always been a primary differentiator of TerraPass, which we proudly point out in our project principles. Thus, we are able to guarantee to you that your money is going towards real, additional, verifiable, and permanent offsets.

The verifier’s evaluation of the project’s operation (which is called the “verification report”) is now available on CAR’s public website(pdf) if you’re interested in seeing the full results.

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