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PA DEP Lauds Lebanon County Landfill Gas Project

The renewable energy education facility displays how our natural resources and materials that are otherwise wasted can be turned into clean, cost-effective energy that is helping to drive our economy.
by Staff Writers
Lebanon PA (SPX) Mar 17, 2008
Following an award from the federal government, Pennsylvanias environmental protection secretary heralded the work of a Lebanon County landfill and its partner to harness renewable energy that is helping power local communities and businesses while educating the public.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty today congratulated the Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority and PPL Renewable Energy for the partners work to develop a renewable energy education facility at the authoritys landfill.

The project was recently named a National Community Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The innovative display at the county landfill demonstrates the power of renewable energy from landfill gas, a wind turbine and solar panels.

When the garbage at a landfill decomposes, it produces gas that usually was just burned off, said McGinty. One of those gases, methane, is a potent greenhouse gas, which threatens our environment. But methane is also a valuable energy resource that should not be wasted, and DEP now requires that it be put to work to light our homes and provide heat for factories.

The Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority and PPL are taking advantage of that opportunity here along with other renewable energy sources to generate power and educate our citizens on the value of these resources. The renewable energy education facility displays how our natural resources and materials that are otherwise wasted can be turned into clean, cost-effective energy that is helping to drive our economy.

Some of the benefits are obviousreducing greenhouse gases and reducing our dependence on imported fuels, said McGinty. By educating the public on the benefits of the various renewable energy sources, were making these alternatives more widely known, which could spur their use elsewhere through future projects.

The Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority project uses a 3.2 megawatt landfill gas-to-energy project, along with a 2,000 watt wind turbine, and a 1,000 watt solar array to generate power and demonstrate the benefits of renewable energy resources.

The facility has already hosted more than 2,000 students, teachers and community groups. It provides a classroom where generators are visible through soundproof windows, displays all power production from the three renewable energy resources live, on a screen within the classroom, and demonstrates the cost-effectiveness of renewable energy resources to industrial and institutional facilities.

The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the Lebanon project is the equivalent of planting about 38,000 acres of trees, removing 26,700 vehicles from the road, or avoiding the use of 323,600 barrels of oil annually.

Pennsylvania is home to nearly 46 active landfill gas projects, including seven that produce high-Btu (British Thermal Unit) pipeline quality gas, 25 that collectively generate more than 110 megawatts of electrical power, and 14 that provide fuel for thermal use in businesses. Total landfill gas use statewide is estimated at 42,951 million cubic feet annually, which reflects the nearly 70 percent of current state landfill gas that is captured.

According the EPAs environmental benefits calculator, this level of capture is equivalent to eliminating emissions from 1.9 million cars or planting 2.7 million acres of trees. The commonwealths landfill gas projects, combined, provide energy the equivalent of 22.7 million barrels of oil, or enough to displace almost 1 billion gallons of gasoline enough to heat 614,000 homes for a year.

In 2006, DEP was honored as the EPA Landfill Methane Outreach Programs state Partner of the Year. The federal agency also cited Governor Rendells initiatives to encourage and support the use of landfill methane gas.

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