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Pact signed for methane energy plant

With a contract signing, Chautauqua County has paved the way toward construction of a methane-to-electricity plant at the county's landfill.

County Executive Gregory J. Edwards and Peter H. Zeliff, president and chief executive officer of Innovative Energy Systems, on Tuesday signed a contract to begin the design, construction and operational phases of the project.

"Today we are taking a project that was only a dream one year ago and making it a reality for the taxpayers of Chautauqua County," Edwards said. "We are leading the state by being the first county to own and operate a landfill gas-to-green energy plant in New York."

The plant will cost between $8 million and $10 million to build and includes the cost of connecting with National Grid. Officials say revenue generated from the project will more than cover the expense of building the facility and generate funding that will be used to lower property taxes.

"The landfill-gas-to-energy project is an all-around win for Chautauqua County," Edwards continued. "We are taking what was once considered a negative byproduct of landfills and producing clean green energy that will be sold on the open grid as electricity at a profit. The future revenue that will be generated by selling this electricity will help ease the burden on property taxes throughout Chautauqua County."

County Legislator Scot W. Stutzman, I-Jamestown, chairman of the Energy Committee, called the contract signing an exciting event. "I commend those who have worked very hard to see this project through," he said. "We have had many discussions in several committees about this project during my first term as a legislator. I look forward to this project moving forward smoothly so that any potential revenues can be returned to the taxpayers within the next few years, as identified in the policy that I drafted and the Legislature passed in 2006."

Shortly after Edwards took office in 2006, William J. Daly, the county's director of economic development, insisted on a thorough business approach to the project.

Daly said converting landfill methane into electricity "makes our county a leader in New York State."

In February, Edwards and Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., met at the landfill to discuss moving this project forward, and both have had regular communications over the last year as this project developed into a reality.

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