Work To Begin On Methane Gas Plant

NEWARK – A partnership between Worcester County and the private sector to convert decomposing trash into a renewable energy source will come to fruition early next month when the ribbon is cut on a methane power plant at the county’s central landfill in Newark.

County officials partnered with Baltimore-based Curtis Engine, a major regional power solutions generation company, on the development of the methane gas-to-electric power conversion plant. The concept is to convert methane gas created by decomposing trash in the landfill to a renewable energy source. The plant will extract methane gas, which occurs when garbage decomposes in a landfill, process it, and convert it to a viable electrical energy source.

Creating a methane conversion plant at Worcester’s central landfill in Newark has been discussed for years, but is now becoming a reality with the county’s partnership with Curtis Engine. The new power plant will begin operation next month with a ribbon-cutting ceremony set for July 9 at the landfill. A second generator is scheduled to come on line sometime this fall with a third generator set to be installed at the site in early 2009.

When completed, the plant will generate an estimated three megawatts of electrical power, which is enough to supply electricity to roughly 2,700 homes in Worcester County, or roughly the same number of homes in Snow Hill. In addition, any excess electricity generated by the plant will be sold to the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, a wholesale energy company supplying electric power to co-ops in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.

County officials this week said the methane gas to electric power represents a win-win situation for everyone involved in that it creates renewable energy from an existing source.

“We are excited to partner with Curtis Engine to be able to use methane gas produced at the landfill for an environmental benefit,” said County Commission President Virgil Shockley. “This project will supply electricity to our regional power grid, helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and keep our overall energy costs as low as possible.”

Shockley said the methane gas produced at the landfill has been an untapped resource for years.

“We are taking a process that occurs naturally at landfills and using it to our advantage,” he said. “Instead of it being released to the detriment of the atmosphere, this gas will supply clean energy to the area.”

For its part, Curtis Engine is proud to be partnering with Worcester County on the cutting edge project.

“We take pride in being one of the pioneers of green energy resources and are honored to be in partnership with Worcester County to bring renewable energy to Maryland’s Eastern Shore.”