BETHLEHEM — The developers of a proposed plant that would turn the methane gas from the landfill into a clean form of renewable natural gas to power vehicles are hoping to begin construction in the spring.

If ultimately approved, the plant is expected to be operational early next year.

In the meantime, the next step at the town level for NEOgas North America and its Utah-based developer-operator, RUDARPA, is to seek a special exception from the Bethlehem Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Developers, who first floated the idea last year, presented a conceptual of the plant to the Bethlehem Planning Board on March 21.

The facility, estimated at between $1.5 million and $3 million, is slated to go on a parcel adjacent to the North Country Environmental Services landfill along Trudeau Road that is owned by NCES.

Presenting the conceptual was Joe Darling, owner of New York-based Darling Transportation Energy Solutions, who said NCES will be able to supply landfill gas for up to 15 years from the existing landfill, according to the meeting minutes.

RUDARPA will contract for gas cleanup and transportation to inject gas into the existing New Hampshire pipeline, he said.

The facility in Bethlehem would transform the landfill gas into beneficial end-use products and natural gas, a process expected to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere by approximately 60,000 tons annually, said Darling.

The transportation vehicles would travel along the existing routes for landfill supply vehicles, he said.

Landfill supply vehicles move along Route 3 and Trudeau Road.

Because the area proposed for the plant is not zoned for industrial use, the development team asked planners for guidance.

Planners told Darling the project will need to apply for a special exception from the Bethlehem ZBA.

Once up and running, the plant is expected to create 8 to 9 long-term full-time jobs and 1 or 2 long-term part-time jobs.

Resident Peter Roy said the project would be great for Bethlehem.

RUDARPA has more than 150 years of combined gas, energy, emissions, and water treatment and processing experience, said Darling.

The 15-year gas supply is based on the current landfill and would not need to have an expanded landfill to operate for the 15 years.

NCES, which would lease the parcel for the plant, would be the landfill gas supplier; NEOgas North America, an affiliate of the Brazilian natural gas firm NEOgas, would be the technology group; and RUDARPA would be the developer/operator.

The plant would capture the methane gas produced by the landfill, typically a waste product from the decomposition of waste, and strip it of impurities, turning it into a high-quality, compressed natural gas that would be used for truck and vehicle fuel and to supplement the New Hampshire pipeline.

The project also needs federal and state permits.

The 24 hour-a-day operation would entail three or four loads of renewable natural gas transport on 40-foot box trailer trucks.

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