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Trash Fuels Light Bulbs

Anne Arundel County Landfill turns trash into electricity

Your trash isn’t going to waste. It’s keeping your lights on.
    Instead of burning off the methane gas produced by decomposing waste, Millersville Landfill now converts the gas into electricity and sends it on to the national power grid, lowering the county’s carbon footprint.
    The methane used to be burned off in a fiery plume.
    The switch is not only green but also a revenue producer for the county.
    “We turned a liability into an asset,” said County Executive John Leopold. “It’s a win for the environment and a win for taxpayers.”
    The methane gas from the seven hills of the landfill can produce 3.2 megawatts of electricity per hour, enough to power 2,000 homes, Leopold said.
    The project started in August 2009 when President Barack Obama’s stimulus package brought the county a $2 million energy block grant. That was the push the county needed to launch the $6.8 million project. Private and public agencies worked together to complete the gas-to-electricity plant, which took seven months to build.
    Forty percent of the new money will fund future energy conservation projects, said Kathleen Koch, the executive director of Arundel Community Development Services.