PNGC Power   8440 SE Sunnybrook Blvd., Ste. 200 • Clackamas, Oregon 97015 • 503.288.1234
Coffin Butte Resource Project Generates Clean, Renewable Energy

PNGC Power owns the Coffin Butte Landfill Gas Generation Project, located north of Corvallis, Oregon.

The project generates clean, renewable power from landfill gas, a natural by-product of the organic matter in the neighboring regional landfill, owned by Valley Landfills, Inc. The Coffin Butte Landfill Gas Generation Project, which began operation in 1995, allows several electric cooperatives to offer customers “green power” as a way to support renewable resources.

Coffin Butte’s landfill gas-to-energy project is a superior, cost-effective renewable resource, producing energy 95 percent of the time. In contrast, wind only produces energy 30 to 35 percent of the time.

A 3.2 MW, $5.5 million capacity expansion, which increased the amount of renewable energy generated by the project, was completed and began operations in January 2008. The expansion included enlarging the Coffin Butte power station from 4,200 square-feet to 9,000 square-feet and installing two 20-cylinder Caterpillar 3520 engines to generate additional power.

The new engines more than doubled the capacity of Coffin Butte to 5.66 megawatts, which is enough electricity to power about 4,000 average-size homes. The cost for generating additional power is very economical, further reducing an already very competitive rate.

Strong customer support of renewable power and the growing availability of landfill gas are the major reasons for Coffin Butte’s expansion. The success of the landfill gas-to-energy plant has encouraged other utilities in the Northwest to consider developing similar alternative renewable resources for their customers.

Technology Leads the Way

Sensor Manager Program
PNGC developed and implemented a computer software program for the Coffin Butte Resource Project that allows plant operators to diagnose and troubleshoot engine problems before they cause a shutdown. The Sensor Manager software allows diagnosis of problems that have occurred or, are about to occur.

Each of Coffin Butte's five Caterpillar engines has sensors attached to them that read as many as 32 values including oil temperature, water temperature and vacuum pressure. With the software, data is continuously captured from the sensors. The data can be viewed real time on a computer monitor in the office or, remotely, on a Web page. All readings are stored in a database and can be used for analysis.

System enhancements include:

  • A computerized graphing tool that demonstrates long-term trends, which will allow pre-emptive maintenance of equipment in an increasingly controlled environment.
  • A more sophisticated paging system that alerts plant operators to problems with advance warning and in more detail.

These tools give Coffin Butte operators the data they need to more effectively manage their system.