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DTE Unit Expands Texas-Based Renewable NatGas Production

In the increasingly competitive market for renewable natural gas (RNG), a unit of Michigan-based DTE Energy on Thursday acquired two landfill gas-to-energy projects in the Houston area.

The move, said DTE, is consistent with recently announced sustainability initiative to help address climate change.

DTE Biomass Energy acquired the Fort Bend Power Producers LLC facility just outside of Rosenberg, which already is in operation, as well as the Seabreeze development project in Angleton, which is set to begin construction in June. Transaction details were not disclosed.

"These landfill gas-to-energy projects support our continued commitment to renewable energy and growing interest in supplying the renewable vehicle fuels market," said DTE Biomass President Mark Cousino. "We see an increasing demand for natural gas powered vehicles, and RNG production provides a clean, sustainable fuel source with the benefit of reduced emissions over standard fuel."

Fort Bend and Seabreeze bring the number of DTE’s operated landfill gas-to-energy projects in Texas to three and give the company five facilities overall that convert landfill gas to pipeline-quality RNG, a spokesperson said.

Constructed in 2013, the Fort Bend facility generates enough RNG to supply fuel for 560 diesel transit buses annually. Output is to be expanded later this year to generate enough RNG to fuel more than 1,000 diesel transit buses. Forecast to reach commercial operations in the fourth quarter, the Seabreeze facility is expected to produce similar volumes.

DTE Biomass is emphasizing the significance of the economic and environmental benefits of the RNG projects, citing their value in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through capturing and destroying landfill gas leaks that, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are 25 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. "They also create jobs and deliver a proven and cost-effective renewable energy source," the DTE spokesperson said.

Nationwide, DTE's landfill gas portfolio includes:

  • 13 projects generating renewable electricity;
  • Three creating natural gas for industrial applications; and
  • Five producing RNG for vehicle use and other gas services.

DTE Biomass, an Ann Arbor, MI-based DTE subsidiary, characterizes itself as a national leader specializing in the landfill gas industry, with a diverse operating portfolio of 21 projects spanning eight states.

The RNG produced at the Fort Bend project is ultimately processed to pipeline-quality standards. RNG is primarily used to power compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas vehicles, offsetting the use of traditional fossil fuel-based fuels, according to DTE.

Separately on Thursday, the oversight board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) authorized a five-year purchase of RNG from Newport Beach, CA-based Clean Energy Fuels Corp. Under an initial one-year pilot, Clean Energy wouldl provide its Redeem brand RNG to one of LA Metro's 11 CNG fueling stations.

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) officials said the transit operator's commitment to RNG would  have "far-reaching positive effects" for  the region.

“Buses powered by near-zero emissions renewable natural gas engines will reduce particulate matter by 600% over the next 40 years, per the most recent LA Metro lifecycle emissions study, so they contribute to cleaner air and have a positive effect on the health of county and city residents," said a SoCalGas spokesperson, adding that GHG emissions are reduced by 72%, compared to a 53% reduction for electric buses.

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