by Richard Keller, Department of Public Works

Photo of a building at the landfill with a gravel parking lot in front

Baltimore County has established a new, long-term agreement with Energy Power Partners (EPP) to expand and upgrade the landfill gas-to-energy system at the County’s Eastern Sanitary Landfill (ESL) in White Marsh.

The project is an important part of Baltimore County’s efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. “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 at ESL and worked to restore and repurpose the site’s engines to generate electricity more efficiently 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 an agreement with EPP where the facility captures methane gas from 161 wellheads to power two engine generators, providing energy directly to the local utility grid. Through a net metering process, the County will buy the energy directly from the plant to power the needs of county-owned facilities. The project should save the County $285,000 in Fiscal Year 2021.

The methane fuel generators will generate energy equal to the energy needed to power 1,600 homes and prevent about 10,400 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. Under this first phase, the project should generate 13 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually. The second phase of the project, planned for completion by the end of 2020, will add a third engine to increase energy production to 20 million kWh annually.

Landscape photo of a construction vehicle working on a newly expanded section of the landfill

“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 project will help offset at least 11 percent of the County’s total energy consumption, which is an important contribution to meeting the County’s 2022 goal of generating or displacing at least 20 percent of the County’s electric demand from renewable energy sources.

This is the most recent effort from the Olszewski Administration to promote environmental sustainability. In 2019, County Executive Olszewski appointed Baltimore County’s first chief sustainability officer to lead the effort to develop a countywide Climate Action Plan, covering topics such as reducing energy consumption and promoting green infrastructure and sustainable growth. Earlier this year, Olszewski convened a Youth Climate Working Group to include youth voices and recommendations in the Plan and other sustainability efforts. Last month, Baltimore County announced a long-term agreement to restart glass container recycling.

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