Officials Flip Switch for Base’s Landfill Gas-to-energy Plant

In a landmark ceremony Sept. 23, base and local officials flipped the switch on a $20 million generator plant that will produce 1.9 megawatts of renewable electric power and steam by burning landfill gas collected from a nearby landfill.

Twenty-one months ago, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Dougherty County, Ga., and Chevron Energy Solutions officials inked the first landfill gas-to-energy partnership. 

The new green technology is the first of its kind within the Department of the Navy. The process will recover methane gas from the neighboring landfill and convert it into energy and steam to help power Maintenance Center Albany.

Col. Terry V. Williams, commanding officer, MCLB Albany, said flipping the switch to the generator allowed the base to begin producing 20 percent of its total energy requirement.

“This landfill gas-to-energy project will not only help us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and our energy intensity, but increase our renewable energies and energy security,” he said. “This project is certainly not the end, but the beginning of a very aggressive energy conservation plan and we are very proud of our energy program here.” 

Williams also noted other energy projects the base is involved in such as a large scale geothermal project, which will be another ground-breaking first and a ground source heat pump and storage project.

“We are also involved in a waste-to-energy demonstration project that will look at taking scrap wood materials and creating bio-oil, as well as our carpooling program to meet energy mandates,” he said. “Other projects include transitioning our fleet of vehicles to about 90 percent electric and 10 percent hybrid, photovoltaic solar panels on the 90 acres of warehouse rooftops and a potential large-scale biomass project.”

Fred Broome, director, Installation and Environment Division, MCLB Albany, said it was a very exciting day and he was extremely proud of the team and their hard work during the past three years.

“I’m particularly proud of the I&E team who worked tirelessly behind the scenes on this project,” he said.  “This was a very complicated and complex contract and there are not many of them in the Department of Defense right now.  This is a 23-year relationship and getting to this point was not easy, but well worth the effort.”

Broome said the generator is currently making electricity, and next year Headquarters Marine Corps has agreed to fund a second generator, so it will double the capacity. 

“There are several mandates to reduce energy consumption and there are multiple other projects in the works to accomplish that here,” he said.  “Net zero is the ultimate goal.  If we can get to the point where the amount of energy we are consuming is not greater than the amount of energy we are producing, then we will not be dependent on anyone and ideally all of that energy is made from renewable resources such as biomass, energy from the sun and so on.”

Broome added that the projects are all about energy security.

“This electricity can be used anywhere on the base,” he said. “It gives us a source of electricity in the event Georgia Power went down. We can still meet our critical demands here so the maintenance center can keep doing most of its mission with just this one generator. We cannot only make energy from methane gas, but if for some reason that was interrupted, we can make it from natural gas, which equals a triple redundancy.”

Lt. Cmdr. Dan Stoddard, integrated product team leader/assistant operations officer, Navy Facilities Command Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., said the significance of the project, in addition to its technical features, is being able to generate 20 percent of the base’s electrical needs. 

“Reducing the need for the additional outside purchase of power is something that is unheard of and is the first project for the Department of the Navy,” he said.  “The fact that the base could partially become independent from an outside electrical provider is amazing.”

Jeff Sinyard, chairman, Dougherty County Commission, said one of the primary objectives for the county is to partner with the base and help it become more efficient and position them to not only keep its current mission, but potentially grow other missions as well.

“We understand the need and what we do for the warfighter, but we also understand the business side of the base,” he said.  “With their current energy mandates and our country wanting to depend less on foreign oil and have more green energy, particularly renewable energy, this was the right thing to do.”

Sinyard said with this being the first landfill gas-to-energy program in the country for the Navy, it means a lot to the local community and county officials take great pride in this project. 

“The Marines and other partners have worked tirelessly for three years to bring this together for all the right reasons,” he said. “We are excited not only about what we are doing for the base, but the region and this country.”

Mike McCoy, assistant county administrator, Dougherty County, Ga., was the solid waste director and shared the initial idea to get the landfill gas project going locally. 

“During my time as solid waste director, I was thinking of ways to improve the landfill and one of those ways was to find a beneficial use for the landfill gas,” he said.  “This is very gratifying and it has not only benefitted the Marine Corps, but has helped the community and the landfill.  It was a great partnership and the leaders of each organization are to be commended for coming together and making this happen.”

John Mahoney, senior vice president, Chevron Energy Solutions, said Friday’s ceremony was the culmination of a lot of incredibly hard work by some great engineers and construction managers. 

“It is a true partnership between MCLB Albany, the Navy, Dougherty County and Chevron,” he said.  “This is a great example of what can be accomplished when you bring people together and they are focused on saving energy, producing renewable energy and helping the environment.”

Mahoney said this has been a really important project for Chevron and despite the challenges, he and his company are proud of the results. 

“We have done many projects with the Department of Defense and the military, but this one is unique because it is the first landfill gas-to-energy project we have done,” he said.  “I think it could be a model for other public-private partnerships in terms of helping the armed services achieve their energy efficiency and renewable energy goals.”

Mahoney said his company has been working with MCLB Albany for more than 10 years, saving them more than $2 million.

He said this project alone will save the base $1.8 million dollars annually.

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