June 24, 2020 - Emerald People’s Utility District’s (EPUD's) Short Mountain Landfill gas generating plant recently celebrated an impressive milestone: half a billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity produced since coming online in the early 1990s. This is enough energy to power approximately 32,000 homes for an entire year.
More than just a large number, however, this figure speaks to the longevity and reliability of a plant that was well ahead of its time when first constructed. Short Mountain Landfill, located just outside of Eugene, OR, is owned and operated by Lane County. In the mid-1980s, the County solicited proposals for capturing the methane gas produced at the facility.
Emerald PUD responded with something of a radical idea at the time: use the gas to produce electricity. Although landfill gas generators are common today, back then there were few, if any, such plants on the west coast. In fact, Emerald PUD staff was forced to travel to other regions of the country to learn about this new approach.
After years of study and planning, the Short Mountain generating plant was finally commissioned in 1992. Today it features four generators, each capable of producing 800 kilowatts of renewable electricity to Emerald PUD’s 21,000 customers.
“Short Mountain was kind of a wild idea at the time, but it’s proven to be a great resource for the utility,” said Doug Hoover, an Emerald PUD Landfill Gas Technician who has been there for every kWh produced since the beginning. “I’m proud of the way it has worked out.”
In addition to the energy production benefits, the plant also prevents harmful greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. In a typical year, more than 368 million cubic feet (CF) of gas is captured at the plant, equivalent to the emissions of approximately 3,000 vehicles.
Looking forward, Emerald PUD plans to continue operating at Short Mountain for at least the next several decades. The utility recently signed a new contract with Lane County to secure the gas utilization rights through 2043.
Emerald PUD is a not‐for‐profit electric utility formed in 1978 by a small group of local citizens who wanted better, customer‐oriented service at the lowest possible rates. Today EPUD serves more than 20,000 meters in Lane County, Oregon. Follow Emerald PUD on Twitter @emeraldpud or on our Facebook page.