The Soldotna Landfill is seen on June 27, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. The Kenai Peninsula Borough is requesting about $5.5 million in federal funding for the construction of a gas collection system, which would convert landfill methane to energy when completed. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion file)

The Soldotna Landfill is seen on June 27, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. The Kenai Peninsula Borough is requesting about $5.5 million in federal funding for the construction of a gas collection system, which would convert landfill methane to energy when completed. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion file)

Borough to send capital project wish list to D.C.

The list includes a methane gas project at the Central Peninsula Landfill

Projects in Soldotna, Homer and Seward are represented on a list of capital projects the Kenai Peninsula Borough is sending to Washington, D.C., for federal funding consideration.

Three projects are described in the legislation, which borough assembly members approved Tuesday, and include flood mitigation projects in the Seward Bear Creek Flood Service Area, the rehabilitation of the South Peninsula Hospital site and facility and the construction of a gas collection system at the Central Peninsula Landfill.

The borough is requesting that those projects be funded via congressionally directed spending, as allowed by the standing rules of the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced nearly $300 million in congressionally directed spending for more than 130 projects in Alaska including on the Kenai Peninsula. That’s in addition to more than $2.8 billion secured for Alaska projects through the trillion-dollar Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law in 2021.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2023 included $4.6 million for the construction of a new clubhouse for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula, $1 million to Triumvirate Theatre for the construction of a new playhouse and $2.9 million for wastewater disposal in Kenai, among others.

Now, the Kenai Peninsula Borough is identifying its priorities for fiscal year 2024.

The gas collection project at Central Peninsula Landfill is being spearheaded by Homer Electric Association in conjunction with the borough. From the federal government, the borough is requesting about $5.5 million for the construction and implementation of the project, which would convert landfill methane to energy when completed. The project is a previous recipient of congressionally directed spending money.

The project, when completed, will collect methane at the landfill. That methane will then be burned in a biogas generator. The energy produced by that generator will go to HEA, while the heat the generator puts off will be used to operate the borough’s leachate evaporator.

Leachate refers to the liquid that percolates through landfills, such as from trash itself or from rain and snow that fall on trash piles and then melt. Per Cornell University’s Waste Management Institute, leachate may contain certain toxic chemicals that can threaten groundwater or surface.

“This project will collect methane gas that is currently released into the atmosphere and utilize it to power the (Central Peninsula Landfill) and forward the excess to support the cooperative energy partners for sustainable energy community wide,” supporting project information says.

The borough is also seeking $21.5 million from the federal government to rehabilitate aging infrastructure and correct code compliance issues at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, which the borough owns. The same project would also construct a new power plant and generator for the hospital.

“Through the hospital site and facility rehabilitation project, it will reduce an overall cost to the local community, ensure better life safety services to those in need, provide for better code compliance, and extend the aging infrastructure for many years to come,” project documents say.

Finally, the borough is requesting just over $7 million to complete five flood service area improvements within the Seward Beach Creek Flood Service Area, including at the Japanese Creek Floodplain, the Questawoods subdivision, Box Canyon Creek and Tiehacker Road. Sediment extraction is also described in project documents.

“The Seward Bear Creek Flood Service Area provides planning, protection, and mitigation of flooding, sedimentation and erosion hazards in the communities of Seward, Bear Creek, and Lowell Point,” supporting documents say. “These communities provide year‐round recreation for Alaska, and provide large economic support for the entire State of Alaska through the city of Seward.”

According to the resolution, a copy of the legislation and project information will be sent to U.S. Sens. Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre said during a Tuesday meeting of the assembly’s policies and procedures committee that the list of priorities must get to D.C. by February in order to go through the federal appropriations process, however, the borough would not hear back about project funding until fall.

In picking what projects to include on the list of priorities, Navarre said the borough considered which projects they thought had the highest chance of receiving federal funding.

“It’s not that we couldn’t get other things accomplished — there’s also some competitive grants through the agencies, etcetera, that we can try to see if we can get,” Navarre said. “What we’re looking for here is some assistance, either with earmarks or to help get these through the federal process, including agency opportunities.”

Tuesday’s meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly can be streamed on the borough’s website at kpb.legistar.com.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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