Officials of Will County and Waste Management of Illinois, Inc. today announced a plan to jointly develop a landfill gas-to-energy plant at the Prairie View Recycling and Disposal Facility near Wilmington.
County Executive Larry Walsh, County Board Chairman Jim Moustis, and Steve Batchelor, Waste Management vice president and market area manager, made the announcement.
Under plans announced today, Will County and Waste Management will enter into an agreement to develop a landfill gas-to-energy plant at the facility, which will generate electricity that is distributed over the area’s electrical grid. Waste Management will build and operate the facility, which could be in operation by the end of 2010.
Will County said it intends to apply for federal economic stimulus funds earmarked for renewable energy projects to help finance the project. Once the grant process is complete, Will County anticipates putting at least $1 million in stimulus funds toward the project.
The Prairie View landfill is owned by the County and is its primary waste disposal facility. Waste Management operates the site under a long-term agreement. It opened in January 2004.
Walsh said, “The landfill gas-to-energy plant is another example of Will County’s efforts to promote a greener environment by creating an alternative energy source locally.
“The County offers many opportunities for residents and businesses to recycle their waste, thus saving energy and natural resources. This project will create a non-fossil fuel energy source and also provide many local construction jobs for a project that will benefit Will County and its residents for many years to come.”
Moustis said, “Here again is an advantage of owning our landfill and partnering with Waste Management. Now not only do we have a place to put our solid waste, but we’re going to be able to produce gas-to-energy.
“This advancement goes along with our goals of being as green as possible,” Moustis continued. “And, happily, it appears the facility will be up and running sooner than we had anticipated, as our original target date was 2012.”
Waste Management pioneered landfill gas-to-energy technology in North America more than 20 years ago and some of its earliest plants were in Illinois. The Company now has more than 100 landfill gas-to-energy projects at its landfills, which produce the equivalent of almost 500 megawatts of power, enough to meet the energy needs of about 400,000 homes. Its 11 Illinois plants generate 41.5 megawatts of electricity — enough to power more than 35,000 homes and replace the equivalent of more than 150,000 tons of coal per year.
Waste Management announced plans in 2007 to add 60 such plants to its network by 2013, and is on track to achieve that goal.
“Landfill gas-to-energy plants are a source of reliable, clean, renewable energy,” Batchelor said. “They provide an environmentally responsible way to harness the gas generated by the waste we all generate, and allow us to put it to good use as green power for our homes and businesses. This is another example of our commitment to Will County to be partners in progress concerning new and emerging technologies.”
The Company estimates that the initial landfill gas-to-energy facility will consist of three to four reciprocating engines, which will produce 2.4 to 3.2 megawatts of power. The projected electrical output of more than 18 million kilowatt hours a year will be delivered to the ComEd distribution lines, and is enough to meet the needs of more than 2,000 Will County households.
Landfill gas is a natural byproduct of decomposing wastes buried in landfills. The primary gases are approximately equal parts of carbon dioxide and methane. Waste Management has constructed the Prairie View landfill’s gas recovery system as it has developed the facility. The system includes a series of gas collection wells drilled into the buried wastes. The wells are connected to a network of pipes attached to a vacuum source that draws the gas from the landfill. The recovered gas is currently being burned in a flare, but will be used as fuel to drive engines to generate electricity when the power plant is completed.
Batchelor said the plant will be scalable depending on the volume of gas generated by the facility. As waste is placed in the landfill, the level of gas increases, so engines can be added to consume the gas to drive power generation. After the landfill closes, the gas volume declines, so fewer engines may be required.
In recent years, the public’s awareness of environmental issues and an increasing emphasis on the development of alternative energy sources have heightened a demand for new sources of renewable energy. Batchelor said landfill-gas-to-energy projects are valuable because they provide reliable levels of power and help to offset power generated by fossil fuels.
Will County is one of the fastest growing counties in Illinois and, indeed, the nation. While the 11th largest in size in Illinois, it is on track to become the second largest in population. Will County is governed by the County Executive system, which mirrors the federal system. It is the only County in Illinois under this form of government.
Nestled against the southern edge of Cook and DuPage counties, it encompasses 845 square miles. It is bordered on the east by Cook County and Indiana; on the south by Kankakee County, and on the west by Grundy and Kendall counties.
Joliet, one of 36 municipalities in the county, is the county seat. The heart of Joliet is 40 miles southwest of Chicago and about 165 miles from Springfield.
Waste Management of Illinois, Inc. is a subsidiary of Waste Management, Inc. Based in Houston, Texas, Waste Management, Inc. is the leading provider of comprehensive waste management services in North America. Our subsidiaries provide collection, transfer, recycling and resource recovery, and disposal services. We are also the largest recycler and a leading developer, operator and owner of waste-to-energy and landfill gas-to-energy facilities in the United States. Our customers include residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal customers throughout North America. For more information, visit www.wm.com or www.thinkgreen.com.