United Power to harness power from “stranded” natural gas wells

Natural-Gas-WellIn another example of one of the many ways that electric co-ops are bringing value and innovative technologies to their member-consumers, Tri-State’s member system United Power (Brighton, Colo.) will soon be generating power from “stranded” natural gas wells in its service territory.

It is dubbed the BluBox Energy Project and named for the firm BluBox Energy, Inc. of Las Vegas, Nev., which has partnered with United Power to provide the energy modules that will utilize the natural gas from existing wells to fuel a series of small generators (approximately 200 kilowatts each) to produce energy that will be sold under contract to the electric cooperative.

The term “stranded” or “shut-in” gas wells refers to an estimated 3,000 wells in Colorado alone that are located too far from the existing natural pipeline network to economically establish a connection and bring it to the marketplace.

BluBox Energy’s manufacturing facility, where it fabricates the energy modules that will generate power from natural gas wells.

BluBox Energy’s manufacturing facility, where it fabricates the energy modules that will generate power from natural gas wells.

In the past, the comparatively less valuable natural gas emitting from the wells has been flared into the atmosphere to allow energy developers to recover and transport the more valuable crude oil that often resides in the same energy field. However, more stringent environmental regulations, imposed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, has strictly limited this practice.

“By harnessing this otherwise unused fuel to produce electricity, we expect to add up to three megawatts of distributed generation capacity to our system,” said Jerry Marizza, new energy program coordinator for United Power.

Last month, Tri-State’s board of directors authorized a Policy 115 contract in support of this local distributed generation project.

Marizza says that BluBox hopes to site its generation modules at up to 15 sites within United’s service territory. “The first generators are expected to be on line by late May or June,” he added.

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