Casella still working on plan to pipe gas from Juniper Ridge | News

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Casella still working on plan to pipe gas from Juniper Ridge

OLD TOWN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- A waste management company in the state is still working on its plan to heat the University of Maine's campus using a new source of fuel.

Casella Waste manages the Juniper Ridge landfill. It wants to pipe methane gas the landfill gives off to the University of Maine's steam plant. Company officials say that gas, which translates to thousands of square cubic inches per minute, should be enough to heat the university's entire campus.

"It would be a financial benefit to the university," said Don Meagher, who is Casella's director of planning and waste management, "it would be a very low cost fuel for them but the other benefit is that it would dramatically reduce the university of Maine's carbon footprint." 

The project however has to be approved by Maine's Public Utilities Commission and that is where it is meeting resistance. Several groups intervened, including one made of Old Town and Orono residents. They say the project goes hand in hand with Casella's intent to expand Juniper Ridge and bring in more waste from out of state.

"Now there's a situation where there's this expansion," said Paul Schroeder, who is a member of the group, "so the university's getting this gas us sort of like being an anchor tenant on a larger facility that's largely going to be run to be a gas production facility not just a landfill."

Casella officials denied a connection between the two projects, saying there already enough trash at the landfill to support the heating project.

The company is also facing resistance from Bangor Natural Gas on the project, which currently provides natural gas to the university of Maine. The two companies have been trying to negotiate since late April.