Turning a Landfill Into Productive Power


Charleston might break new ground locally if entrepreneur Tom Loehr succeeds in building a methane-fueled power plant at the city’s landfill, but it will simply be catching up with the rest of the world, as hundreds of “trash-to-electricity” plants already are in operation – some for 20 years or more.

Loehr, accompanied by Mayor Danny Jones, said Monday he is raising $3 million from private investors to build a plant that will capture methane gas from the landfill and convert it into electricity. He plans to sell the electricity, possibly to the University of Charleston, and pay the city a 12.5 percent royalty.

The plant will be the first of its kind in the state, Loehr said, but added, “West Virginia is one of the few states that does not have a landfill methane project.”

Some communities burn methane to make heat or steam; others use it as an alternative fuel for buses or taxis. Most – about 70 percent – use it to generate electricity, as Loehr proposes. He says the 3-megawatt plant he’d build would generate more than enough juice to power the entire UC campus.

Image via Flickr

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