Wasted energy: Lamar landfill to produce electricity

Sunday, October 4, 2009 | 8:39 p.m. CDT

LAMAR — A western Missouri town plans to use gas from a landfill to produce electricity to power homes.

Methane from two landfills in Lamar — the old Lamar Landfill and the newer Prairie View Landfill — will be burnt by generators to produce electricity.

The Joplin Globe reports a $6 million project has been in the works for five years.

The Prairie View Landfill receives trash from towns that include Lamar, Springfield, Joplin and Carthage.

Lamar City Administrator Lynn Calton said it's the second largest landfill in the state.

Officials said the two 1.6-megawatt generators would produce enough energy to power 2,300 houses.

"We'll provide electricity to the whole town — at least the residential side," he said. "It's not enough to power the industrial side."

Calton said the plan is to add three generators in the future, which would produce a total of 9.6 megawatts of electricity.

"Right now, our peak load for both residential and industrial is 18 megawatts," Calton said. "We will not be able to get all of our electricity from the landfill, but a lot of it. We're hoping that it will keep electricity prices constant for Lamar."

An Allied/Republic Waste spokesman said the Prairie View Landfill could operate 25 to 30 years into the future, depending on the flow of waste to the landfill.

This is the third Allied/Republic Waste landfill in the state to convert methane into electrical energy. A landfill at Jefferson City provides energy for a state prison there, saving taxpayers $250,000 a year. And a landfill near Kansas City is generating 40 percent of the electricity needed by a nearby concrete plant.

The methane is produced by the decomposition of waste in the landfill.

"Why not recycle that by eliminating methane burn-off to produce electricity?" he said. "We pay Allied for the methane. We make money, and they make money."

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