Veolia Landfill in Wis. Will Generate Electricity from Landfill Gas

The facility will have the initial capacity to generate 42,000 megawatt hours of electricity per year.

Veolia Energy North America announced its first landfill gas-to-energy project in the United States, in eastern Wisconsin. The project, slated to commence operation in early summer 2011, will have the initial capacity to generate 42,000 megawatt hours of electricity per year, enough to power 2,800 homes.

Once complete, the 4.8-megawatt (MW) electrical generation facility will include three landfill reciprocating engine generator sets with a capacity of 1.6 MW each, fueled exclusively by the landfill gas. Landfill gas, which is normally burned off, will be captured and sent via the landfill’s existing gas collection system to the facility, where it will be transformed into electricity.

“We are delighted to begin construction of our first renewable-energy facility in North America,” said Stewart A. Wood, president and CEO of Veolia Energy North America. “Veolia Energy is committed to maximizing environmental sustainability through a reduction in the consumption of fossil fuels and the introduction of renewable resources into the energy mix, and I am pleased that this project will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the people of Wisconsin.”

Veolia Energy has entered into a power purchase agreement with Wisconsin Public Service (WPS), the primary electricity and gas provider for northeastern Wisconsin residents. Upon completion, it will purchase all of the power generated by the plant, along with the renewable energy credits associated with the energy output.

As part of the 2005 Wisconsin Act 141, Wisconsin established a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), requiring utilities to meet a gradually increasing percentage of retail sales with qualified renewable sources, with the goal of providing 10 percent of the state's retail energy needs from renewable resources by 2015. In addition to its environmental benefits, landfill gas qualifies as an eligible resource under Wisconsin’s RPS. The Hickory Meadow landfill gas-to-energy project will help WPS meet its RPS requirements.

“Landfill projects offer a higher level of dispatch reliability compared to wind generation projects,” said Rob Benninghoff, director of renewable and special projects at WPS. “As wind projects make up an increasing percentage of the energy mix in the market, landfill gas-to-energy projects can play a role by providing a higher level of dispatch certainty as a counterbalance, and WPS is happy to be part of Veolia Energy’s first landfill energy project of this type.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its emission reductions and environmental benefits calculator, a 4.8 MW landfill gas-to-energy plant such as this could be expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 25,000 tons per year, or the equivalent of removing 37,550 automobiles from the road each year.

Around the world, Veolia Energy manages more than 2,400 MW of alternative and renewable energy facilities. As a result of its efforts to optimize energy and utilize renewable resources across the globe, the company reduced worldwide greenhouse gas emissions in 2009 by 6.6 million tons.