Mississippi’s Methane Model

The state’s first landfill gas-to-energy project goes on line.
By Anna Austin | November 22, 2011

With help from the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Golden Triangle Regional Landfill in northeastern Mississippi has commissioned a landfill gas-to-electricity system, the first of its kind to operate in the state.

The system employs a GE Jenbacher Gas Engine that generates nearly 1 megawatt of electricity, enough to power about 700 homes. The TVA, a government-owned power utility, is purchasing the power from the 4-County Electric Power Association distribution system under the TVA‘s Generation Partners program. Generation Partners supports homeowners and businesses that install small-scale renewable generating sources such as landfill gas systems, solar panels or wind turbines on their property. Participants are able to defray the cost of their renewable systems and lower their monthly energy bills through the revenue they receive from the sale of the green power to TVA.

TVA pays 12 cents per kilowatt-hour above the retail electric rate for solar and 3 cents above retail for all other renewable sources. Additionally, new participants receive $1,000 to help offset start-up costs.
The project has several benefits beyond the capture and use of methane. Jimmy Sloan, executive director of the Golden Triangle Regional Solid Waste Authority, says the system will also provide a new revenue stream that will be used to help keep landfill fees low. It was actually the second phase of a bigger project, according to Sloan. “The first phase was installed to destroy methane gas and secure carbon credits,” he says. “Then this project grew from that.”

Planning began in March 2010, and the project was approved by the GTRSWA board the following May. Once GTRSWA was accepted as a member of Generation Partners in October 2010 and had the contract in hand, it self-developed the project, Sloan says. Construction began in May 2011 and it was completed by the end of September.

The cost of both phases of the project was $3.5 million, according to Sloan.

Because this landfill gas-to-electricity system is the first in Mississippi, it will serve as a model for the state, and surrounding states, Sloan says.

According to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program, the state has 16 candidate landfills for economically viable landfill gas-to-energy projects. Across the U.S., the U.S. EPA estimates there are 575 landfills that hold potential for the development of projects, on top of the 550-plus already operating or in development.

—Anna Austin