Estimated Annual Power Generation
New Jobs Created with Landfill Gas Project
After the loss of thousands of furniture and textiles manufacturing jobs in recent decades the city of Martinsville, Virginia is taking a progressive approach to powering its future. The city installed a green energy project at the now closed Martinsville Landfill. The project generates enough power to supply two to three percent of local demand and saves government as much as $400,000 annually in electricity costs.
The landfill served region for 33 years. Since it’s closure in 2006 the facility was permanently sealed with a clay cap storing 1.7 to 1.8 million tons of solid waste underground. While sealed the decomposing waste turns into methane, one of the most dangerous of greenhouse gases, that is then is gathered and burned to make electricity. Unburned the methane would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.
“To me, it shows the mindset of the community in regard to how we view the future,” says Leon Towarnicki, Martinsville’s city manager. “This is using a resource that was just lying there and was going to be a liability to the city and turning it into something good, something that has value: power from trash.”
In addition to cost savings from making their own power, the project also creates an income stream for the city by selling renewable energy certificates (RECs). The RECs represent the “greenness” of the power and are sold to others who want to support green power. With this income, the project is expected to pay for itself in five years and make power for twenty.