Using a landfill along the Pacific Coast west of Silicon Valley, another green electricity source opened at the start of July, promising 11.5 MW of power for local utilities from the Ox Mountain facility in Half Moon Bay, CA. It is a project spawned by Massachusetts energy services firm Ameresco Inc. and Republic Services Inc., the waste management firm operating Ox Mountain.

The opening at Ox Mountain comes within days of an announcement of another Northern California landfill project involving the production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for transportation for trash-hauling trucks and other heavy equipment operators (see Daily GPI, June 24).

Calling Ox Mountain “an ideal green energy solution,” Ameresco President George Sakellaris said the landfill gas-to-energy project will reduce carbon emissions by “making electricity out of a resource that was previously just wasted [via flaring].”

In operation since 1976, Ox Mountain is slated to continue receiving garbage for another 35 years, creating more landfill methane gas. Ameresco uses the landfill gas to produce electricity with on-site generating equipment. Along with Republic Services, Ameresco commissioned the plant last Wednesday.

Plant electrical output will be sold to the municipal utilities in the cities of Palo Alto and Alameda in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to Ameresco, which originally inked contracts with the cities five years ago for power from another landfill power project in the Bay Area in Santa Cruz County.

Palo Alto’s city-run utility has set aggressive renewable energy targets (30% in 2012 and 33% in 2015) for which the Ox Mountain supplies are expected to greatly help as they will equate to 4% of the city’s electricity supplies. For the other muni, Alameda Municipal Power, its share of the Ox Mountain power output will amount to about 11% of its overall electricity needs.

“This is one of three landfill-gas-to-energy resources presently powering Alameda,” a city spokesperson said. “And these will be joined later this year by the facility at Republic Services’ Keller Canyon landfill. By the end of this year, Alameda will have 22% of its power needs satisfied by landfill gas-powered generation projects.”

Calling itself the “greenest little city in America,” Alameda claims to get 85% of its power supplies from renewable-based resources. The city is located close to some of Northern California’s richest wind power areas.

Separately, what was billed as the world’s largest plant to convert landfill methane gas to LNG for use in transportation announced that it was getting ready to open later this year at a Northern California trash site, according to project partners New Jersey-based Linde North America and Waste Management Corp. The project in the Altamont Pass, not far from Alameda, was touted by the partners as a model for what can be replicated at landfills and dairy farms across the nation, wherever enough biomethane can be captured, cleaned and liquefied.

Houston-based Waste Management operates 277 landfills nationwide and operates many of its trash trucks on LNG, a spokesperson told NGI.

When commercially operable later this year, the Altamont project will produce 3 MMcf/d of landfill gas that is turned into 13,000 gal/d of LNG, or the equivalent of more than 1 MMcf/d for transportation fuel to supply up to 300 trucks. The LNG produced annually will amount to 4 million gal.

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