When it comes to finding alternative fuel sources, it seems, there is no limit. The wind, the sun, even trash is being used to make power. Monroe County's Mill Seat Landfill is turning waste into watts.
"We're standing on the edge of the Mill Seat Landfill, the edge of the waste mound itself," says Jeffrey Richardson of Waste Management.
We've all heard the saying turning trash into treasure. Here, that saying couldn't be more true. "It is these types of projects that will eventually help lesson our nation's dependence on fossil fuels," says Richardson.
At the Mill Seat Landfill, the excess methane that the trash produces is re-captured. It is then sent through a series of underground pipes and goes into some engines. They convert it into electricity, which then runs through these power lines and back to the grid. The excess gas is combusted in a flare.
"This energy is sold to a large organization in Connecticut as a matter of fact because it is a true green energy source and there are organizations that will pay a premium for that green energy credit power," says Monroe County's John Graham.
The Mill Seat Landfill doesn't just take in thousands of tons of trash, it also produces enough energy to power about 4,000 homes. They aren't the first to turn methane into energy, but their project is unique in that it also combines sludge from the wastewater treatment plant.
"It's kind of comforting to know that when you do finally throw something away or flush it in the bathroom, that that can go together and also be recycled to make green energy. I don't think it gets much better than that," says Kimie Romeo, an educator with Monroe County.
They flipped the switch and put this project online last August. Now, months later they are already thinking about expanding. "We fully believe that within another year we will have at least two more engines out here, and together with the 8 that are already there, those engines could run 50 years."