By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – It’s not exactly turning trash into treasure, but officials say it’s close.
On Thursday, Mississippi Public Service Commission Chairman Brandon Presley announced that his agency had unanimously approved the construction of a nearly 1 megawatt electricity-generating plant at the Golden Triangle Regional Solid Waste Authority’s landfill in Clay County.
The $2 million project, which had been announced in October, will use methane gas emitted at the landfill that otherwise would have been burned off.
Moisture is removed from the gas, which is then used as fuel for a generator. That generator will produce 999 kilowatts of electricity, which will be sold to the Tennessee Valley Authority at a premium. In turn, TVA will distribute the electricity – enough to power about 1,000 homes across its grid.
“This is the first project of its kind in Mississippi and a major benefit to ratepayers,” Presley said. “Anytime we can use untapped resources and turn them into energy we should be doing it.”
TVA will buy the power through the 4-County Electric Power Association, which will recoup its investment through the premium TVA will pay it.
Joe Cade, the CEO and general manager of 4-Power, is quite familiar with the program.
“I was with a cooperative in Georgia and we furnished green power this way and it was very beneficial,” Cade said.
The projects is part of the TVA Generation Partners program, which pays 3 cents per kilowatt hour above the retail rate and fuel cost adjustments. The generator is expected to pay for itself in about five years.
Sixteen construction jobs will be created for the plant, which should be finished by August, officials said. Construction should begin in April.
After the plant is up and running, the waste authority will hire an employee to help oversee the operations and maintenance of the plant.
The landfill sits on 667 acres straddling the Clay and Oktibbeha county lines, but is using only about 284 acres, said Authority Executive Director Jimmy Sloan.