New Springfield energy plant at landfill to help power Oberlin

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Workers from Diamond Steel of Boardman hook an engine to a crane. The engine will be used to convert methane gas into electricity at the Waste Management Mahoning Landfill in New Springfield.

By Burton Speakman


Area trash soon will provide power to another Ohio city after Waste Management completes its plant that will convert methane gas to electricity.

Six engines were installed Wednesday at the Waste Management Mahoning Landfill. The $750,000 engines will provide 4.8 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power 3,000 to 5,000 homes depending on usage, said Todd Brady, gas-operations manager for Waste Management in Ohio.

“It typically takes about eight to 10 months to build one of these facilities,” Brady said. “This one is still on schedule to be finished by the end of the year.”

The site is at the masonry stage of construction. Work crews will be able to install the roof after the engines are installed, he said.

“We’ve found that it’s easier to drop them in through the roof rather than finishing the building and trying to bring them through the front door,” Brady said.

A huge crane is used to place the large engines, which are more than 12 feet long.

The engines used to produce the electricity typically run on diesel fuel. They’ve been converted to operate using the methane gas, he said.

Methane gas, colorless and odorless, is produced by garbage decomposition or decomposition of other organic material.

“The city of Oberlin is trying to diversify its power portfolio,” Brady said. “They put out bids for renewable energy, and we were lucky enough to get that bid.” Oberlin is west of Cleveland about 95 miles from Youngstown and about 105 miles from the landfill.

The company’s goal is to build 60 of these facilities, such as the one in New Springfield, nationally during the next five years, Brady said.

Waste Management has plans to generate enough renewable energy to power two million homes by 2020, said Beth Schmucker, spokeswoman for Waste Management. The company is producing enough power for one million homes.

“This is local waste being put to good use,” Schmucker said. “It’s truly a form of recycling.”

Waste Management already has one Ohio methane gas-to-electric facility. It is in Zanesville. In addition to the local site, the company also is building another power plant in Geneva that will also provide electric to Oberlin, Brady said.

Waste Management owns or operates more than 130 landfill gas-to-energy facilities in North America.

The facility ensures that methane gas generated by the landfill will be converted into a beneficial use, said Jerry Ross, senior district manager of Waste Management Mahoning Landfill. “By investing in landfill-gas-to-energy, we are developing renewable ‘green’ energy to power homes,” he said.

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