07/27/05 — Waste to energy: Tommy Strickland must be smiling

View Archive

Waste to energy: Tommy Strickland must be smiling

“Methane gas, a by-product of landfill waste, will be converted into electricity.”

That’s a quote from a Monday News-Argus story written by Barbara Arntsen.

It noted that the methane gas would be sold to Progress Energy and be equivalent to the amount needed to provide electricity for 100 households.

And the conversion will take place at the Wayne County landfill!

The late Tommy Strickland surely must have been smiling down upon us when the story appeared.

An attorney raised in the Saulston community, Strickland served in the N.C. House of Representatives and as a state senator. He also ran for governor, losing to James B. Hunt Jr., who was emerging as the most popular politician in the state’s history.

It was while serving in the State Senate that Strickland was convinced of the possibilities of producing energy from household waste.

He visited experimental projects in other states and championed the idea in the halls of the Legislature.

Harnessing the gas could have two-fold benefits. It not only could convert the methane to provide energy, but would reduce the adverse effects its natural release from landfills would have on polluting the air.

Indeed, methane emissions from landfills eventually were causing such a problem nationwide that the Environmental Protective Agency imposed stringent restrictions to control them.

In 2003, Wayne County commissioners voted to install a system that could pump the gas from wells in the soil and burn it in a flare located atop thelandfill.

The methane gas was being generated in such quantities that it justified being converted into electricity. And Methane Credit, an Arizona-based company, had the expertise to do that.

By the end of fall, the company will be converting it to electricity and selling it to Progress Energy. Wayne County not only will be solving its methane emissions problem, but sharing in the profits.

Sen. Tommy Strickland did not live to see his dream become a reality in Wayne County.

But he championed the idea of generating energy from household waste at a time skeptics regarded it as a harebrained scheme.

Published in Editorials on July 27, 2005 11:43 AM