Grant turns landfill into power producer

The federal stimulus program puts the Fulton, Mo. landfill in the power production business.

Gov. Jay Nixon Monday morning announced the approval of a $437,000 grant to turn waste methane into electricity.

It's difficult to see in the daylight, but the dump station is always burning off the methane gas produced by decaying waste in the Fulton City landfill. It does so 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This is just one of more than seventy projects we are funding in 58 communities across Missouri, Nixon said.

The grant money will allow the city to install and electricity generator on this site, and use the methane as fuel. It will be similar to the system already in use at the Jefferson City correctional center, though only about one fourth that size. Right now, 10 wells pump the gas from the landfill to the flare.

"It is enough to operate a generator right now, solid waste manager J.C. Miller said. But we wanna ensure that we have enough gas to continue on with it."

So the city likely will install more wells to improve the flow of methane. The generator will not only provide for all the power needs on site, but enough juice to power public buildings and more.

"It's huge in that there's no way that the city of Fulton would be able to afford to do something like this if it wasn't for the help of the state of Missouri, Fulton Mayor Charles Latham said.

There is not enough grant money to put a generator at every landfill in the state. Fulton won a competitive application process by having the best business plan for the project.

Miller said the grant was exciting and was better than just watchin' it burn off back there.

By coincidence, the production of electricity will begin about the same time the landfill closes.

City officials said the Fulton landfill is only about a year away from capacity.

When it closes, they will contract for space in other landfills. However, the Fulton landfill will continue to produce methane for decades to come.