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Catawba County Landfill Gas-to-Energy Facility

CoGeneration FacilityTo provide an economical means to prevent methane migration and emissions from the County’s Landfill, to protect the health and welfare of the people and the environment, while generating revenue by producing electricity from an otherwise wasted fuel source.

According to the USEPA, the energy benefits for a typical 3-megawatt (MW) electricity generation project are approximately equal to:
  • Powering 1,400 homes
The environmental benefits for a typical 3-megawatt (MW) electricity generation project are approximately equal to:
  • The annual greenhouse gas emissions from 23,600 passenger vehicles.
  • The amount of carbon sequestered annually by 29,300 acres of pine forest, or
  • The carbon dioxide emissions from burning 670 railcars' worth of coal or 14.6 million gallons of gasoline.
Rodney Hamby
Rodney L. Hamby
Landfill/Co-Generation Superintendent

Phone:(704) 462-1348

map 4017 Rocky Ford Rd
Newton, NC 28658


Methane is a natural gas produced by the decomposition of organic material and debris in landfills all over the world. The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Waste Management requires landfills in North Carolina to control and prevent Methane migration and emissions.

The most common process is the controlled burning of methane through a specially designed flare system. A typical system consists of wells drilled through the buried waste. These wells are then connected to a series of underground pipelines which carry the methane gas to the flare where it is ignited and burned harmlessly into the atmosphere. The State regulates these emissions through a special permitting system.

The leadership of Catawba County envisioned a way to benefit the citizens of Catawba County by harnessing this methane as a viable energy source. Through research, Catawba County discovered a process known as Co-Generation.

This process includes the collection of the methane gas, but rather than wasting this valuable resource through the flare system, it is directed into a 20 cylinder engine which is specially designed by Jenbacher Energiesystems, Inc. of Austria to burn methane as a fuel source. This 20 cylinder engine produces 1400 horse power. It powers a 1 mega-watt generator which can produce line voltage of 12,500 volts. There are currently three of these generators installed at the Blackburn Landfill site. Based on statewide average consumer electrical usage, The Blackburn Co-Generation Facility produces enough power to light approximately 1400 homes annually. The electricity produced from these generators is sold to Duke Energy on a cost per kilowatt hour basis.

Over a twenty-year period, the County expects to purchase two additional engines and generate revenue in excess of expenditures of approximately $9.2 million dollars during this time. Enough electricity could be generated to power approximately 2,300 homes. Most important, the revenue produced from this project will enable the County to maintain the current solid waste tipping fee for the next ten years!

This is truly a win-win situation for everyone. Catawba County benefits by being able to generate revenue by producing electricity from an otherwise wasted fuel source. It also enables Duke Energy to purchase electricity from a currently untapped fuel source, which it would otherwise have to produce by means of fossil fuel or nuclear plants. This aids in the conservation of all natural resources, which benefits everyone!