MORETOWN, Vt. (AP) – Vermont’s second-largest landfill is building what would become the state’s second major program to make electricity from methane gas generated by rotting garbage.

On Tuesday, the Moretown Landfill Inc. held a groundbreaking to launch the construction of the project, which officials hope will supply power to the electrical grid before the end of the year.

Once the project is running, the flame seen by motorists on nearby Interstate 89 will no longer be visible. The gas will instead be channeled to the generators that will make the electricity that will be sold to Green Mountain Power.

“This ties in beautifully with what Green Mountain Power has been trying to accomplish from a portfolio perspective for many years in our past and for many, many years into our future,” GMP President Mary Powell said at the groundbreaking. “Our portfolio is made up principally of water, wind and wood and we’re thrilled to add this mix.”

The Moretown project will install two generators that will produce a total of 3.2 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 2,600 homes – roughly the size of nearby Waterbury – and keep about 21,600 tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the environment every year.

Currently, the Washington Electric Cooperative generates 6.4 megawatts of electricity from a project at the state’s largest landfill in Coventry. The co-op is hoping to expand that project to produce 8 megawatts.

A recent study done on behalf of four Vermont power companies said a series of small renewable energy projects like wind power and methane can play an important role in the state’s energy future.

Gov. Jim Douglas said at the groundbreaking ceremony the Moretown project would protect the environment and be a local source of electricity.

“There’s a lot of concern now, as everybody knows, about energy independence, about less reliance on imported fossil fuels from unstable regimes in the Middle East,” Douglas said. “We need to do what we can so we can be more independent, to generate electricity in ways that provide local generation and this methane generating facility is going to be an important step in that effort.”

Methane gas is a byproduct of decomposition of the trash that is breaking down in the landfill. Gas to energy projects are a way to produce power locally and protect the environment.

Moretown Landfill General Manager Tom Badowski said the landfill hoped to keep accepting trash for another 20 years. The waste would continue to produce methane for another 12 years after the last load of trash is hauled into the landfill.

AP-ES-09-09-08 1745EDT

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.