The North Shelby Landfill
is located not too far off Highway 51, just before Millington. It likely doesn't strike the average passerby as a hot-spot for "clean energy" innovation, but this landfill is on the forefront of renewable technology, saving money while reducing greenhouse gas.
Memphis light Gas and Water (MLGW)
and Clean Energy Renewable Fuels (CERF) recently completed a project in which CERF collects, cleans, and compresses the gas that is produced by the landfill, and MLGW brings that gas to market through their natural gas distribution system. The partnership is an acknowledgment of the growing potential of biomethane as a renewable, low-emission fuel.
The greenhouse gas given off by the landfill includes methane and carbon dioxide, byproducts of the decomposition of the organic matter in trash being consumed underground by anaerobic bacteria. These gases are not the most fragrant of aromas, so previously this gas was vented and burned off—or "flared"—to the atmosphere. In fact, the EPA requires that landfill gas be collected, and the burning flare was previously the end result.
The new system not only stops the greenhouse gases from venting to the atmosphere, it also brings a significant revenue stream to MLGW.
According to Michael Taylor, Assistant Manager of Commercial and Industrial Customer Care at MLGW, since the project was completed in September of last year, MLGW, CERF and Republic Industries
(the owner of the landfill) have collected gas with enough energy to heat 7,500 Memphis homes a year.
CERF invested the capital required for the project, and MLGW's facilitates bringing the product—pipeline quality gas—to the market—MLGW customers. This means MLGW had no capital outlay, and was revenue positive from day one, so did not require customer rate increases.
According to Taylor, "When it comes to sustainability, MLGW is an industry trailblazer with our landfill gas, LNG and CNG
efforts. We are committed to a cleaner environment, a robust local economy and low rates for our customers."
This new project built upon past success at the South Shelby landfill, where 10 years ago Solae
, a DuPont subsidiary producing soy products for nutrition and health, partnered with BFI, the South Shelby landfill operator. Solae ran boilers in their plant, and in order to save on their own power bill, they converted their boilers to run straight off landfill gas.
The new North Shelby landfill program provides methods to clean, enhance, and compress landfill gas in order to provide pipeline quality gas to the MLGW system.