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City Councilors Call for Program to Generate Power from Landfill Gas

City Council President Martin Heinrich and City Councilor Isaac Benton are calling for the development of a program to convert the city’s solid waste into electricity and heat power.

“We are asking for a two-part program,” explained Council President Heinrich. “The first part would maximize the conversion of land fill methane to electricity or heat. The second part would be to digest the trash stream coming into the Cerro Colorado Landfill and convert it to electricity.”

“This is a win-win proposition for the people of Albuquerque,” stated Councilor Isaac Benton of City Council District 3. “It will help reduce the electric bill for city government by allowing the City to gain green credits on power by selling the electricity generated at these old landfills to Public Service Company of New Mexico. In addition, it would reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and the relatively greater amount of air pollution that occurs when coal is used to generate electricity. This program will also help remediate the damage and ground pollution at old landfill sites created by decomposing trash,” he said.

In the City’s 2006 goals and objectives, the Administration and the Council committed to initiating the planning and engineering for converting the City’s solid waste stream to methane gas. Currently, only 17% of gas generated at the City’s landfills is captured and turned into electricity, while 83% is flared, or wasted.

Both councilors emphasized that this effort will build upon the City’s groundbreaking work in promoting energy conservation. In the late 1980s, the City won national acclaim for converting its sewage stream into electricity to operate the liquid waste plant. In 2000, the City continued its innovative path towards sustainable energy by becoming the first municipality in the country to dedicate, on a recurring basis, a portion of its capital expenditures to energy conservation projects. The City recoups the cost of these projects from energy savings within two years.

Earlier this year, Councilor Benton introduced a proposal to increase capital spending on energy conservation projects from 1% to 2% of the General Obligation Bond and to expand the scope of this set-aside to include renewable energy projects. This was the result of an energy summit convened by Mayor Martin Chavez and Councilors Benton and Heinrich. The Council will be considering Councilor Benton’s proposal (O-06-34) at their meeting on September 18.