How Trash Becomes Energy
Did you know that landfills with gas collection systems can recycle nearly 25% of the material deposited in the landfill?That makes landfills some of the largest recycling operations in the U.S. Here is the best part: the gas is created, captured, and re-used for energy transformation! In 2002, the Laurel Ridge Landfill LLC entered into an agreement with East Kentucky Power Cooperative to provide landfill gas to an on site power plant. From methane to megawatts, the landfill operated by Waste Connections/ Laurel Ridge Landfill LLC are harvesting gas emissions as a renewable energy source for electricity.
The East Kentucky Power generation plant is a four megawatt plant that can service as many as 4,000 customers when operating at full capacity. The energy produced by the plant is sent to the power grid and can be purchased by environmentally-conscious customers through a program called Enviro-Watts.
Laurel Ridge was first bonded in the early 1970s to operate as a residential landfill, in 1992 a leachate collection system and clay liner were added for additional protection as a transitional landfill while the subtitle D/ Contained landfill regulations were being completed. July 1, 1995, though our current permit LRL operates under subtitle D solid waste regulations, title five air quality regulations as-well as NSPS regulations LRL are required to manage the landfill gas with a collection system that is studied, designed, and engineered to protect the environment and the surrounding communities in which we live.
The gas collection system has 122 drilled wells and miles of piping to bring the Landfill gas to the landfill flare. When the gas arrives at the Skid Flare, it is managed in two ways. One way is to ignite the flare burn/ incinerate the gas at the flare. Another is to send it though the flare to EKPC where the power generation plant provides power to the grid and vacuum to the Landfill Gas collection System. The plant runs 24 hours per day, 365 days a year to provide continuous power to the grid. Every year we have more and more request for tours of our landfill and power plant. We have students and classes from the University of Kentucky and Cumberland College down to the fourth and fifth grade classes at our local grade school. It’s rewarding to teach our future leaders and young citizens about landfill operations and the benefits that gas collection can have.