Methane to Electricity


Award-winning landfill in the turns solid waste into energy

In the early 1990s, Neel-Schaffer was selected to provide planning and design services for the Golden Triangle Solid Waste Management Authority (GTRSWMA) to construct a Subtitle D landfill to serve the counties of Choctaw, Clay, Lowndes, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, and Webster as well as several municipalities in the region. Household garbage has been placed in this facility since 1996.

Methane and carbon dioxide gases are byproducts of the decomposition process in the landfill, and methane is a highly combustible gas that can be used to provide heat or power electrical generating equipment. For several years the staff of GTRSWMA had been researching the means of economically converting landfill gas to energy. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), through their Generation Partners Pilot Program, provided the solution by promising to pay a premium for green power that was generated from biomass, among other sources.

Neel-Schaffer assisted the Authority in the design and construction of a power generation system that utilizes methane gas to generate one megawatt of electricity. This is sufficient power to serve 650 homes. The power is purchase by TVA, yielding a payment of approximately $80,000 per month to the Authority.

Neel-Schaffer’s role in the project included design, preliminary engineering, assistance in document preparation and oversight during construction. The $3 million facility was completed and put in operation 12 days ahead of schedule.

Then Governor Haley Barbour, as he toured the nearly completed facility, said of the project: “Mississippi’s energy policy is simple: Produce more affordable, abundant American energy. This project fits in well with our state’s strategy to have diverse energy resources to support our longterm economic growth.”

This award-winning project received the U.S. EPA’s 2011 Landfill Methane Outreach Program project of the Year Award and the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Gold Award. The EPA said this project showed excellence in innovation and creativity and success in achieving environmental and economic benefits.

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