Officials say a landfill in southern Idaho could start producing enough energy to power 2,500 homes as early as May.
The Milner Butte Landfill near the town of Burley produces methane and other gas from millions of tons of decomposing garbage. Currently the local solid waste district has to burn those gases, but work on a new plan by Southern Idaho Solid Waste Executive Director Josh Bartlome is almost complete, the Times-News reported.
By using two Siemens locomotive engines to convert the landfill gas to energy, the landfill can sell that power and use the money to help keep landfill use costs low.
Bartlome said the gas-to-energy facility should be running in May, generating about 2.6 megawatts of power.
The Milner Butte Landfill serves seven counties, taking in about 240,000 tons of garbage last year.
“This thing’s huge — it has a life of its own,” landfill gas specialist Brent Dozier said. “Landfills of this size are required to continuously monitor for emissions, primarily methane.”
The gas-to-energy project costs about $7.5 million. Once the gas is trapped, pipes will move the gas to a system where particles and moisture is removed and from there into two generators. The energy from the generators will be sent to nearby transformers, and then onto the power grid.
Idaho Power Company has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement starting this October. Meanwhile, the state-issued permit for the project will allow the landfill to add one more generator and produce up to 5 megawatts of power within the next five years.
That would be enough to power 5,000 homes, Bartlome said.