County says yes to sale of landfill carbon credits

MARSHALL – When the Lyon County sanitary landfill built a flare system to burn off methane and carbon dioxide gas at the landfill, county commissioners had looked at it as a potential source of revenue. At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the county board, they approved an agreement that would make it so.

Lyon County Environmental Administrator Paul Henriksen presented commissioners with a proposed agreement to sell carbon credits generated by the gas flare. Commissioners approved that agreement.

The flare was built at the landfill in 2010. It burns off methane and carbon dioxide gas that builds up in the landfill as trash decomposes. The arrangement cuts down odor and prevents greenhouse gases from being released into the air.

At the time the flare was built, commissioners had discussed the possibility of using it for a gas-to-energy project. However, they didn’t move forward with the idea because of the costs involved.

The flare could still be a source of revenue for the landfill, Henriksen said Tuesday. Element Markets, LLC, offered to purchase carbon credits the flare generates for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Element Markets is a Texas company that buys carbon credits to trade to other industries. Under a proposed contract Henriksen brought to the board Tuesday, Element Markets would purchase credits from the Lyon County landfill at a rate of $1.25 per ton of greenhouse gas reductions. The contract would be for credits generated between 2010 and 2016.

The possibility of an agreement with Element Markets had been discussed at an earlier county board meeting, but commissioners had expressed concerns that the contract didn’t leave the county open to use the gas in the future. Henriksen said the contract presented Tuesday had been revised to help address those concerns.

Board members voted to approve the contract.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board also voted to award a professional services agreement with an agency that would help a group of area counties bid for health insurance together. Lyon County Board chairman Rick Anderson said Lyon County, Murray County and Redwood County, as well as Southwest Health and Human Services, selected the agency for the task at a meeting earlier this month.

The contract with RJF, an agency of consulting and insurance services company Marsh & McLennan, would cost $14,000, Anderson said. The monthly costs of the contract would be divided among the participating counties and SHHS, based on the number of employees eligible for benefits.

Lyon County Attorney Rick Maes said he had reviewed the contract. The Murray County attorney had reviewed it as well, Anderson said.

Commissioners also approved a low bid for pre-design work for the Marshall to Camden State Park bike trail project. Lyon County Public Works Director Suhail Kanwar presented bids from three companies to the board. The low bidder was the firm of Bolton and Menk, with a bid of $4,300. Board members voted to accept the bid.

The pre-design work for the trail project includes environmental and archaeological assessments that must be completed before the county can enter an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for Legacy Grant funding.