East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) was granted final approval to proceed with construction of Kentucky’s first plants to produce electric power from decaying municipal trash. At most landfills in Kentucky, gas emitted by decaying trash is emitted directly into the atmosphere, but the new plants will tap this renewable resource to make a useful product.Winchester, Kentucky – May 15, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] By the fall of 2003, three such plants are scheduled to begin producing a total of around 10 MW of power by tapping methane that is emitted at three landfills. That is enough electric to power supply the homes of almost two cities the size of Shelbyville, and will make EKPC one of the leaders in green power among electric utilities in the Southeastern United States. Each of the US$4 million plants will be around 5,000 square feet. The Kentucky Public Service Commission granted its approval after a review of information supplied by EKPC, and the Kentucky Division of Air issued air permits for the three projects. The plants will be built at the Bavarian Landfill in Boone County, the Laurel Ridge Landfill in Laurel County and the Green Valley Landfill in Greenup County. “We’re extremely pleased that regulators have agreed with our position that these projects make good business sense and they are good for the environment,” said EKPC CEO Roy Palk. “We will be taking a naturally occurring waste product and making affordable electric power.” The first plant to be constructed will be at the Bavarian Landfill in Walton, Ky. with an anticipated completion date of late summer 2003. A second plant will be built at the Green Valley Landfill with a scheduled completion date by the end of September 2003. A third plant is scheduled for the Laurel Ridge Landfill near London, which also should be completed by the end of September. Green Valley and Bavarian are designed to produce up to 3.2 MW of electricity, while Laurel Ridge will produce 4 MW. “Landfill gas is a clean and renewable source of energy,” Palk said. “Providing this to our member distribution cooperatives fits with our commitment to be environmentally responsible. The customers of our member cooperatives have asked for this, and it’s the right thing to do.” At least four electric cooperatives will sell the output from the plants to retail customers through a program called EnviroWatts. Owen Electric Cooperative, which supplies electricity to nine Northern Kentucky counties , was the first Kentucky co-op to offer green power to customers. EnviroWatts began after Owen Electric received inquiries from Toyota Motor Manufacturing about supplying green power to its North American headquarters, located in Erlanger. Toyota is purchasing enough renewable power from Owen Electric to supply a significant portion of the energy for its laboratory on the headquarters campus. Of the 6,000 landfills across the U.S., there are about 340 with landfill gas-to-electric projects currently in operation. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates as many as 500 additional landfills could cost effectively tap methane as an energy source, producing enough electricity to power one million homes across the country.