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Veolia begins operations at its Wisconsin landfill energy project

Veolia Environment North America (VENA) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the commencement of operations for its new landfill gas-to-energy project (LFGTE) at the Veolia ES Hickory Meadows Landfill, located in eastern Wisconsin. State, community and business leaders gathered at the project site to recognize the environmental and economic benefits of the project for the state of Wisconsin.

This project represents a comprehensive, beginning-to-end environmental solution that begins with the collection of solid waste, continues with the land-filling process and decomposition of matter, progresses through the collection of landfill gas, and ends with the efficient production of clean energy for use by the local utility.

The Hickory Meadows landfill gas-to-energy project has the capacity to generate 42,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable electricity per year, enough to power 2,800 Wisconsin homes. The renewable power facility features 3 landfill reciprocating engine generator sets with a capacity of 1.6 megawatt (MW) each, fueled exclusively by the landfill gas.

The gas, which consists of about 50 percent methane and 50 percent carbon dioxide, is naturally generated through the anaerobic decomposition of organic material in a landfill. At the site, the gas had previously been captured and flared off by the site in a controlled manner. With the addition of the plant, the gas is distributed via the landfill’s existing gas collection system to the renewable power facility, where liquid and particulate matter is removed. The landfill gas is then injected into the internal combustion engines to produce environmentally clean electric power, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

By using the landfill gas for this beneficial re-use project and displacing fossil fuels, the direct and avoided emission reductions of this 4.8-MW plant will be about 25,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of removing nearly 38,000 automobiles from the road (according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s emission reductions and environmental benefits calculator).

Veolia Energy will sell all of the power generated by the plant, along with the Renewable Energy Credits associated with the energy output, to Wisconsin Public Service (WPS). Landfill gas qualifies as an eligible resource under Wisconsin’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), so the power produced at the Hickory Meadows will help WPS meet its RPS requirements, while also supporting the state’s goal of having 10 percent of its retail energy needs come from renewable resources by 2015.

In addition to the associated environmental benefits, the project provided a number of economic benefits to the surrounding area. The plant development and construction process involved the efforts of nearly 20 Wisconsin-based subcontractors, suppliers and local businesses.