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Franklin County Landfill Sells Methane Gas From Rotting Garbage

Sam Hendren
Part of Aria Energy's methane gas production facility near Grove City

A Michigan-based company now buys methane gas generated by Franklin County’s decomposing garbage.

Aria Energy has built a $22.5 million facility at the SWACO landfill near Grove City that refines the gas and sells it to a natural gas customer on the West Coast. 

A ribbon cutting was held Tuesday but the plant located near SWACO’s headquarters building is already in operation.  Aria Energy buys landfill gas, cleans it and refines it, then sends it to a California customer.  The gas leaves the landfill via a Columbia Gas pipeline says Aria’s Les Carrier.

“It comes out of that tank, comes through a small compressor in the back, comes out this building and is actually funneled into Columbia’s pipeline in that building over there,” Carrier says.

For years, the gas from the landfill has been vented into the atmosphere where it acts as a greenhouse gas or it’s been burned atop flaming emitters.  SWACO board chairman Dave Bush says that instead of losing the gas, SWACO will earn as much as $3 million annually by selling it.

“We have the volume that is the equivalent of 27,000 tons of methane that our landfill would otherwise release into the air or the equivalent of the energy to power 17,000 homes.  And that is obviously a significant throwaway were we to burn that or allow it to go off into the air,” Bush says.

SWACO’s Kyle O’Keefe says the gas well system extends throughout the giant landfill.

“We have wells that go deep into the landfill that actually vacuum this gas up and that’s what’s actually brought here to this compound,” O’Keefe says. 

“We’re collecting gas that would otherwise be greenhouse gasses – which the landfill is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses in all of Franklin County.  We’ll be able to reduce those greenhouse gasses and also turn it into a revenue generating resource and a clean fuel resource as well,” O’Keefe says.