Traditionally, landfill gas escapes into the atmosphere through the slow decomposition (or expedited flaring) of waste, contributing greatly to greenhouse gas emissions and local smog. Ameresco, Inc., the owner of the Ox Mountain Landfill to Gas facility, wanted to build a project that captured this harmful gas and turned it into a renewable source of electricity and heat for the California cities of Palo Alto and Alameda.

PCL Industrial Services, Inc. was invited by the owner’s engineering firm to competitively bid the facility based on successful past performance. Schedule and price were determining factors for contractor selection, and PCL met these important criteria to be awarded the project.

The project consisted of six GE Jenbacher Reciprocating Gas Engines, a water cooling system, a gas treatment system, an electrical system, and other auxiliary systems to produce 11.5 megawatts of electricity. The Landfill Gas to Energy captures and converts more methane than any other Bay Area landfill. Its six engines operate 24 hours a day and generates enough electricity to power 7,500 homes — more than twice that of most local landfills.

The benefits of landfill methane-to-energy conversion are manifold. Rotting landfills are the second largest producer of methane in the world by industry. At Ox Mountain, collected methane powers the plant itself, including the engines that convert the methane into electricity before feeding it into the grid, bound for Alameda and Palo Alto.

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