DTE Biomass Michigan landfill gas plant on line

By Anna Austin | December 08, 2011

DTE Biomass Energy has fired up its landfill-gas-to-energy plant at the Smith’s Creek Landfill in St. Claire County, Mich.

The facility is being operated by Blue Water Renewables Inc, a DTE Biomass Energy subsidiary. The 3.2 MW of electricity produced is enough to power about 3,000 homes, and is being purchased by utility Detroit Edison. In January 2011, the Michigan Public Service Commission approved a power purchase agreement between Detroit Edison and Blue Water Renewables, for the electricity produced as well as the renewable energy credits generated from the landfill, which is owned and operated by the county.

The project is one of the first commercial-scale septage injection landfill gas sources in the U.S., meaning it will use material extracted from septic tanks to speed up the decomposition of organic waste. This will promote faster landfill gas production and also extend the life of the landfill, which opened in 1967 and is scheduled to close in 2045, according to the county. It currently receives an average of 2,500 cubic yards of waste per day.

In addition to the landfill gas plant, the Smith’s Creek Landfill project incorporates an education center to allow schools and community groups to learn about environmentally responsible means of waste disposal, as well as using renewable landfill gas to power electricity generation.

DTE Biomass Energy has more than 25 other similar plants in operation across the country.