DTE Energy has launched a new program that allows customers to use landfill gas for heating and cooking. Billed as a renewable energy program, BioGreenGas is available as an upgrade option for environmentally conscious consumers similar to the Green Generation program Consumers Energy has offered to local electric customers…though at only $2.50 per month, its impact on your monthly utility bills would be much less noticeable.
Introducing BioGreenGas, a new, voluntary residential program which supports the local development of renewable natural gas by using the methane that arises naturally from landfills. As organic matter decays, methane escapes into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. Capturing methane and removing the impurities creates a renewable source of pipeline quality natural gas. We’re leading the US with this program.
BioGreenGas benefits the environment in two ways:
- It prevents harmful methane from escaping into the atmosphere.
- It creates a renewable source of pipeline quality natural gas.
WMEAC is neutral on this program. Members should feel free to take advantage of BioGreenGas if they choose. It should be of particular interest to anyone passionate about hydraulic fracturing and natural gas exploration, as harvesting gas from landfills is a preferable alternative to mining. But the overall environmental impact of this program is a mixed bag.
Yes, we should do everything we can to support innovation and the capturing of waste gas from landfills. And obviously, using this greenhouse gas for fuel is much better than allowing it to escape into the atmosphere. But waste energy is not always a renewable resource. We do not want to encourage the growth of what should be an ever diminishing fuel source. Programs such as BioGreenGas could ultimately encourage less responsible and less efficient practices. There are already foolhardy plans underway to divert yard waste from compost manufacturing operations to landfills for this very purpose. While BioGreenGas may be preferable to common practice, there are simply more efficient and more environmentally friendly ways to capture the waste streams the program will rely upon. In the long run, we’re best served by creating an economy that is as close to zero waste as possible.