WM further develops landfill-gas-to-energy projects

By Susanne Retka Schill
Waste Management Inc., the largest developer of landfill-gas-to-energy projects, announced plans in early October to partner with private and municipal landfill owners to further expand its efforts.

WM opened a landfill-gas-to-energy facility Sept. 18 at the Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site near Denver, where WM manages the landfill operations. The project is expected to generate 3.2 megawatts of electricity annually. Another WM landfill-gas-to-energy project recently broke ground at the municipal-owned Madison County landfill near Syracuse, N.Y. This facility will generate 1.4 megawatts per year.

"We operate a number of landfills for municipalities," said Wes Muir, WM director of corporate communications. "We realized we could expand our expertise and take it on the road." WM is the only solid waste management company that has a dedicated renewable energy group, he noted. "We can design, build, operate and even market the energy for landfill projects," he added. The new initiative will position WM's renewable energy group to provide full-service support to municipal and private landfill operators that lack the resources to develop landfill-gas-to-energy projects.

WM, an operator of landfills across North America, set a goal last year to develop up to 60 new landfill gas projects at its landfills by 2012. More than a dozen of those projects have been completed or launched across North America, and the company said it now has renewable energy projects at 112 of its landfills. When the goal of 160 to 170 landfills producing renewable energy is met, the company projects it will be generating more than 700 megawatts of energy annually.

The company is also developing projects to utilize gas from landfills that have insufficient gas flow to generate electricity, Muir said. The company is developing a landfill-gas-to-liquid-natural-gas project at the WM Altamont Landfill in Livermore, Calif. Another project to produce synthetic diesel fuel from landfill gas is in the pilot phase.