Will County officials tout benefits of renewable natural gas plant

Will County officials touted the green benefits, both environmental and financial, that will come from a renewable natural gas plant in Wilmington at a groundbreaking ceremony Friday.

The 20,000-square-foot facility sits on a 1.5-acre site next to the county’s Prairie View landfill in Wilmington, and will take landfill gas and turn it into pipeline-grade gas, Darren said. Nightingale, SCS Energy Project Manager.

“Instead of releasing emissions into the atmosphere, we’re reusing them for something useful,” said Christina Snitko, senior energy and conservation specialist at the Will County Land Use Department.

County officials began discussing plans for a factory in 2019 and construction began last June, Snitko said. To build the plant, 96% of the work on the project was done by local businesses and 44% of the work was done by Will County residents, said County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

The plant, which is the second in Illinois and the first in the Chicago area, will be a “non-tax source of revenue for the county,” Bertino-Tarrant said. The project is green in two ways: it will benefit the environment and increase county revenue, she said.

The renewable natural gas plant is expected to bring in about $14.5 million next year, with the fiscal year 2023 budget proposing that the revenue be earmarked for operations and debt service. The county’s budget office projects about two to three years of operation and debt service before the county can use the revenue for other items, and predicts it could eventually bring in between $14 million and $20 million in income.

Bertino-Tarrant said she would like to see the revenue used to improve county buildings, such as building a new county complex where the old county courthouse is located.

“We’ve got a lot of buildings in this county…and my goal is to see money go there,” Bertino-Tarrant said.

Southtown Daily

Southtown Daily

Twice a week

News from the southern suburbs delivered every Monday and Wednesday

In the landfill there are tubes that suck in the methane gas and deliver it to the plant, said Jake Smith, the plant’s main operator. When the gas arrives at the plant, it’s about 50 percent methane, Nightingale said.

The hydrogen sulfide is stripped from the gas, Nightingale said, and a cooling pad removes the moisture. Then the gas is compressed, he says.

Darren Nightingale, SCS Energy Project manager, gives a tour of the Renewable Gas Plant in Wilmington after a ribbon cutting Friday.

The gas is then transported out of the building in a cooler, Smith said. Then the gas comes back into the building to remove volatile organic compounds, often components of petroleum fuels or dry-cleaning agents, and the compounds enter a thermal oxidizer to be destroyed, Nightingale said.

After that, carbon dioxide and nitrogen, in separate steps, are removed, Nightingale said. The gas is then 96% methane and is routed to the pipeline for use, he said.

Snitko said what is produced is compressed natural gas, which can be used as fuel for trucks. US Grains will help the county sell the fuel on the market, which will generate revenue for the county, she said.

Compared to gasoline, using renewable natural gas for transportation will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent, officials said.

“You have invested money, and the income will be a return on investment,” Snitko said.