ST. PAUL  (AP) -- An energy utility wants to become one of the first U.S. companies to turn methane into a renewable form of natural gas for customers in Minnesota.

CenterPoint Energy submitted plans Thursday for a pilot program to sell renewable natural gas to Minnesota residents. The company could begin selling the gas next spring if the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approves the plan.

Renewable natural gas is created by gathering methane from sources like decomposed landfill trash, manure or decomposing crops. The methane is then processed and refined into a form that's chemically identical to traditional natural gas. Most methane tends to be released into the air directly or burnt off.

CenterPoint says switching to renewable natural gas decreases greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent.