City’s Renewable Natural Gas Pipeline project delayed

City’s Renewable Natural Gas Pipeline project delayed
Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 10:26 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The City of Topeka’s Utilities Department is continuing construction for a new Renewable Natural Gas Pipeline that would turn sewage into income.

The City’s Utilities Department is working to break down organic matter (flushing toilets, cow manure, food, and more) in our sewage sludge to create renewable natural gas they can sell to markets around the country in their “Oakland Biosolids Handling and Energy Recovery Phase II.”

The RNG Facility received a national award in October for its role in advancing sustainable fuels, especially renewable natural gas. The award was given by Energy Vision, a non-profit research organization that studies and promotes clean, carbon-free fuels.

“We’re simply cleaning it to get it at the same level of the same quality of natural gas that people use to heat their homes. That’s the beauty of this project,” said Utilities Director Braxton Copley.

The pipeline starts at the Oakland Waste Water Treatment Plant and goes through both levees of the Kansas River, the Riverside ATV Park, Union Pacific Railroad, Soldier Creek, and ends at 3046 Northeast Meriden Road, about two miles north.

There, it connects with a third-party interstate pipeline, called Southern Star.

No odorizing is required, meaning it won’t have a smell.

“By putting it into an interstate commerce pipeline we’re going to generate revenue from the sale of gas but more importantly, we’re going to be able to generate tax credits or the environmental attributes from that gas.”

He says the city put a lot of thought and effort into safety. Including getting the necessary permits from the United States Army Corps of Engineers, KDHE, Kansas Water Office, Kansas Corporation Commission, Union Pacific Railroad, and KDOT.

“Kansas Gas Service has hundreds and hundreds of miles of gas line throughout the entire city and those gas lines have multiple connection points which are the service lines to people’s houses. We have a two-mile gas line that is going through a relatively unpopulated area that is going to be operated by a third party company that has to comply with a list of federal and state regulations as long as my arm.”

Construction was supposed to finish last month, but Copley said their supplier failed to ship them critical electrical components. Ultimately pushing the project back.

“The worst possible time to construct a renewable natural guess facility is during a global pandemic when you have all kinds of supply chain demands and breakups be the latest delay is actually pushing it now until January of next year.”

The total price -- $16.2 million.

“The frustrating part is until we can get the facility up and running we’re not generating revenue from it. Our payback was 34 years and so that starts the day that we start generating some income to be able to generate that income to pay off the total project costs.”

The city’s contract is for three years starting in October and it can be renewed. Copley said they estimate $1.6 million in income for the first full year.

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