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Bannock Landfill Could Turn Into Energy Generator

Bannock County is a step closer to turning its landfill into a power plant.

“You always look at the garbage as being garbage, but sometimes that garbage can be hidden gold,? Bannock County Commissioner Karl E. Anderson said.

That hidden gold is methane gas. Deep inside the landfill, microbes and bugs eat away at the waste, creating massive amounts of the flammable gas.

Engineers said the landfill can build equipment to capture that gas, use it to run a generator and sell the electricity it generates back to Idaho Power.

“Engineers are about the efficiency, using the system to the ultimate. But it’ll be a good payback for the county,? Project Engineer Stephen Freiburger said.

Building all the equipment the project needs costs money. The county has begun accepting bids and estimates the total cost will be about $2.5 million.

But the commissioners want to make it very clear the money isn’t tax dollars, but the fees people pay to use the landfill.

“If I’m going to go to the dump, I’m going to help pay for this. That’s how it comes back to us. So there’s no property tax dollars. This is fee based, and the only place you can use this money is at the landfill,? Anderson said.

Those behind the methane project said selling the electricity to power companies will make that money back quick.

“Starting out we figure we’re going to be about $300,000 a year and then as we build up over time, to almost $1 millon a year,? Freiburger said.

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