Delaware utility buys power from landfill gas-to-energy project
Delaware Electric Cooperative is now purchasing power produced at the Delaware Solid Waste Authority’s landfill in Sandtown, Delaware. The nonprofit utility is purchasing 2 MW of power generated at the site—enough to power 1,200 member homes.
The energy is being produced by two new methane-driven engines constructed at the landfill, which convert the methane gas produced by decomposing garbage into electricity. The landfill gas plant was built by Ameresco, a leading energy efficiency and renewable energy company.
“This project epitomizes the efforts that are needed to meet our renewable energy goals,” said Gov. Jack Markell. “By converting otherwise harmful landfill gas into a cleaner, more reliable source of electricity, we reduce our dependence on out-of-state sources and improve our environment in a way that makes economic sense. I commend the Delaware Solid Waste Authority, the Delaware Electric Cooperative and Ameresco for their partnership.”
The power produced at the site is sent directly to member homes and is being purchased at a very competitive price. This means the Co-op doesn’t have to pay transmission fees to distribute the power to its members.
The project is also expected to reduce emissions at the Sandtown Landfill. According to the U.S> EPA, gas-to-energy projects can lower emissions at landfills by 60 to 90 percent. If the methane gas wasn’t being used to produce energy, it would be burned off, releasing emissions into the air.
"Harnessing landfill gas and converting it to clean electricity provides tremendous economic and environmental benefits for Delaware,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara. “This project not only supports local jobs and reduces energy prices for consumers and businesses, but landfill gas-to-energy provides a clean and efficient source of power that displaces dirtier forms of energy, which improves Delaware's air quality and further establishes the First State as a national leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.”
“Ameresco is delighted to continue working with our long-term partner, DSWA, to expand our existing facility and generate an additional local source of renewable energy from the methane generated at DSWA’s Sandtown Landfill,” said Michael Bakas, senior vice president of Ameresco. “In addition, we are excited to partner with the Delaware Electric Cooperative and assist them in realizing their sustainability objectives through the purchase of renewable energy for their members.”
Currently, Delaware Electric Co-op purchases or produces ten percent of its power from renewable sources. The purchase of energy produced at the landfill will further bolster DEC’s renewable portfolio. Under state law, all utilities in Delaware must purchase or produce 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025.
According to Co-op President and CEO Bill Andrew, “This is the first time the Co-op has directly purchased power from a landfill and we’re looking at the possibility of further partnering with other landfills in the state. Not only is this project good for the environment, but we do not expect this to have an impact on electric rates.”