Photo via Shutterstock
With the closing of the Richard H. Gorsuch Station coal-fired power plant, a group of 83 municipalities in Ohio were faced with the dilemma of how to establish a new energy plan by 2013. While a core group, known as American Municipal Power, collectively made a choice to establish a contract with another dirty coal power plant, the city of Oberlin has instead opted to source their energy from garbage! So far, the city is receiving 55% of its power from two nearby landfills.
Americans created 243 million tons of solid waste in 2009 according to the Environmental Protection Agency. About 1 megawatt of power can be produced from the natural process of anaerobic methane fermentation for every million tons of that solid waste. The energy consulting firm of Black and Veatch recommended to Oberlin that gaining power from nearby landfills was the right direction to go.
In February of 2011, Oberlin signed a $66 million power contract for American Municipal Power to purchase 8.1 megawatts of landfill gas from Waste Management Renewable Energy LLC. As of January 25 of this year the city is plugged in and finally receiving their minimum energy needs from the Mahoning County and Geneva Landfills. This has given the city about 55 percent of its expected energy needs and more is on the way. The city has combined the landfill gas with other sources such as hydropower, gas turbines, solar, wind and nuclear energy. They have transitioned themselves into a green-energy thinking community that every city can learn from.