RMH Receives Grant To Heat Water With Methane

Brent Finnegan -- January 15th, 2010

Yesterday outgoing Gov. Tim Kaine announced $10 Million in funds for the Biomass Energy Grant Program in Virginia. Some of those funds are headed to Harrisonburg.

Rockingham Regional [sic] Hospital, in Harrisonburg, will receive $583,848 (of a $876,168 project) to install or retrofit 3 boilers to heat and provide hot water at the main hospital and Women’s Health Center, all to be fueled by methane gas generated by the nearby landfill. This project should result in $250,000 per year in energy savings.

Jenny Jones reported in today’s Daily News-Record that “the boilers will heat and provide hot water to the main hospital at RMH’s new campus just east of Harrisonburg at Port Republic Road.”

Without the grant, the hospital would have been able to retrofit only one of the three boilers, a process that will cost about $200,000 per unit . . .

(Thanks, John R. for emailing us about this)

14 Responses to “RMH Receives Grant To Heat Water With Methane”

  1. Nicholas Detweiler-Stoddard says:

    Will these new methane powered boilers already be up and running for fall and winter 2010 or is this project still a few years down the road?

  2. My question is…how much does it cost to capture that methane gas from the landfill?

  3. Lowell Fulk says:

    Good question Phil. Interesting to compare the cost of capture versus the cost of not. One real problem I see is that people will tend to think, “Problem solved, we can forget about it now.”

    Our method of waste disposal is exceedingly short sighted and harmful, and “waste”ful.

    I approached members of the Board of Supervisors a decade ago regarding longer range thinking regarding the issue.

  4. Emmy says:

    I’m sure that the initial cost is probably very high, but the long term benefits probably outweigh that cost.

  5. Lowell Fulk says:

    And long term is the type thinking which is necessary Emmy…

  6. Karl says:

    The county said in the past that the cost of setting up the pipeline from the landfill to RMH’s new site is 2.44 million. The county expects to open bids tomorrow from companies that would operate and maintain the pipeline.

    Construction of the pipeline has already begun and is expected to be completed by March 31st (of this year).

  7. Thanks Karl.

    If this program lasts long enough, then I think the benefits would outweigh the cost. The initial set-up cost doesn’t seem to be too bad (if it is still at that number), and it would pay for itself in about a decade or so.

    I am curious about the annual cost to keep the pipeline running as well. Any word on the expected bids, Karl?

  8. Karl says:


    I’ll get some of the bid info tomorrow (01/20), but I don’t think this is one of those “bids read aloud” things. I think tomorrow I will know how many and then we will have to wait until a recommendation is made to the BOS to find out how much. I could be wrong, but this is my understanding at the moment.

  9. The landfill is already required to capture the landfill gas. It is a powerful greenhouse gas, and can migrate off site and gather in explosive concentrations in buildings and buried utilities. Capture is made easier by the landfill cap which contains the gas and allows for a system of gas collection wells. In the past the County simply flared the gas. Now it will provide beneficial use.

    If they do this right the County should be able to extract and better manage OUR responsibility to deal with OUR byproducts.

    Hopefully RMH will show RockCo a $250K “in kind” contribution for the BTUs! Overall this is a great effort. Congratulations to all the folks who made it work out!

  10. JW says:

    The landfill currently flares all their methane, has since 1996.
    The original plan for RMH was to have one boiler operate on methane, the remainder on Natural Gas. This would have only consumed about 20% of the methane the landfill generates at RMH’s peak consumption rates.

    This grant allows them to convert, well install technically since they aren’t operational yet, the other 3 boilers RMH will use to run on methane and utilize 80-100% of the landfills methane production.

    The pipeline is already constructed and was sized such that it could meet this gas flow already.

  11. Renee says:

    I think this is really interesting, and it’s great the gases are being put to use as an alternative source of energy instead of just being flared out.

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