BALTIMORE COUNTY— Baltimore County will now be using its own trash to produce renewable energy—which is projected to save the county almost $300,000 in the next fiscal year.
The County announced Monday that is has entered a new agreement with Energy Power Partners (EPP), a clean power-focused firm to participate in a landfill gas-to-energy system at the County’s Eastern Sanitary Landfill in White Marsh.
The two-phase project is the first large-scale renewable energy venture in Baltimore County’s history.
“Climate change poses one of the most significant threats to our state’s long-term health and prosperity. This new project will reduce Baltimore County’s carbon footprint and help meet critical renewable energy goals,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski.
“Baltimore County can and should be a leader in environmental sustainability and my administration will continue to innovate as we work to protect our shared environment for this generation — and the next.”
In 2019, EPP purchased the gas-to-energy facility located on the Eastern Sanitary Landfill, previously owned by Exelon Generation, and worked to restore and repurpose the site’s engines to more efficiently generate electricity from the produced methane.
“This is a great example of a public-private initiative that helps protect the environment while providing a reliable energy source,” said Steve Gabrielle, partner for Energy Power Partners.
“We look forward to a long-lasting relationship with Baltimore County, and we appreciate their vision.”
Beginning in June 2020, the County entered into a power purchase agreement with EPP where the facility captures methane gas produced by the County’s 375-acre Eastern Sanitary Landfill to power two engine generators, providing energy directly to the local utility grid.
Through the utility net metering process, the County will purchase the energy produced to offset the power needs of County-owned facilities.
The methane capture generators will power the equivalent of 1,600 homes and prevent the equivalent of 10,400 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. According to the EPA, the reduction of emissions is equivalent to any one of the below annual environmental benefits:
Removing 2,000 cars from the road, or
Planting 12,300 acres of forest, or
Reducing consumption of 1 million gallons of gasoline
The project is anticipated to save the County $285,000 in FY21.
Under this first phase, the project is expected to generate 13 million kWh annually. The second phase of the project will add a third engine to increase energy production to 20 million kWh annually. Phase two of the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
“With this project, Baltimore County is taking an important step towards embracing a vision for using our own renewable energy sources,” said Baltimore County Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Lafferty.
“The challenges presented by climate change will grow in the years ahead and so we must continue to aggressively pursue sustainable solutions like this project to create a greener and cleaner future.”
According to the EPA, landfill waste accounts for the third-largest manmade source of methane in the country and reducing methane emissions from landfills is one of the best ways to provide an immediate and beneficial impact in combatting the impacts of climate change.
In 2016, the previous administration announced a goal to generate or displace at least 20 percent of the County’s electric demand from renewable energy sources by 2022. As of December 2018, little progress had been made to meet this goal.
Through this project, Baltimore County is expected to offset at least 11 percent of the County’s total energy consumption and continues to explore additional efforts to help the County’s meet or exceed the 2022 goal.
In 2019, Olszewski created Baltimore County’s first Chief Sustainability Officer who is leading the development of county-wide Climate Action Plan, covering topics such as reduced energy consumption, promotion of green infrastructure, and sustainable growth policy.
Earlier this year, Olszewski convened a Youth Climate Working Group to ensure youth voices and recommendations are included in the County’s Climate Action Plan and other sustainability efforts.
Last month, Baltimore County announced a new effort to expand the County’s marketable recycling program by restarting glass recycling — which had been sidelined since 2013.