Turning trash into renewable treasure - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Turning trash into renewable treasure

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany broke ground at the Dougherty County landfill Thursday on the U.S. Navy's first landfill gas to energy project.

The concept is remarkably simple. As trash decomposes, it creates methane gas. Right now, that gas is burned off. But the plan is to trap that gas and convert it into energy, enough to provide up to 22%of the energy needed to operate the base.

In what was likely also another first, the Marine Corps Band was on site to mark just how big of an occasion this is for the Navy, Marine Corps and Dougherty County Community.

It's an old cliché: "One man's trash is another man's treasure," said Col. Terry Williams. But today, that cliché has significant meaning to the MCLB Commanding Officer.  Col Williams said, "That's exactly what this is. This is a treasure for the county. It's a treasure for the Marine Corps, it's a treasure for Chevron as well."

Just as oil is referred to as liquid gold, household trash is now more than a smelly mess, it's a green form of energy, which converts into another kind of green, money. That's something Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy Thomas Hicks says should be celebrated.

Hicks said, "Instead of just letting this flare off and go out into the atmosphere, let's use that. It's literally gold. It's money, sitting in this landfill and if we can tap into it, and that's what this projects all about, tapping into that resource, getting as much out of it as we can and instead of it being something that the community doesn't want to see, it's something that returns energy and dollars back into the community."

Something more communities are working toward, finding renewable sources of energy to become more energy independent.  Jim Davis, President of Chevron Energy Solutions said, "It's critical right now, in light of all the challenges we have with environment, with the greenhouse gas emissions, projects like this reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 19,300 tons, which is the equipment of removing 16,000 cars from the road."

And as long as trash is delivered to this landfill, and methane produced, energy can be transferred to the Marine Base.

The county is spending about $3.5 Million to buy equipment to build the plant, but they'll eventually get that money back as the base pays for the energy, plus an additional half a million dollars.

The initial gas to energy agreement between Dougherty County and the Marine Base is for 20 years. Construction is expected to be complete by April.

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