Utah Legislature: Measure may open door to garbage as energy source

Published: Monday, Feb. 8 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

Joe Lesuma prepares garbage to be burned at the Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District in Layton.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — The garbage you take out to the curb may soon light up your house.

Under a measure sponsored by Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville, that trash in your garbage can and in the landfills would be classified as "renewable energy," and thus pave the way for the state to tap into a new, clean energy source.

Each ton of solid municipal waste can produce up to 600 kilowatts of energy, and it is more environmentally friendly than any other energy source, Barrus told a committee of lawmakers.

"Municipal solid waste is a by-product from human activities," he said. "We will always have it."

In the United States, there are 248 million tons of garbage languishing in landfills and in Utah alone, there are 2.3 million tons of waste.

Barrus said by tapping into that — burning garbage and turning it into energy — two problems are solved.

Landfills will be liberated of waste, and Utah could join 24 other states and the District of Columbia in its embrace of the practice.

"This will greatly add to the state's opportunity to provide renewable energy," Barrus said.

The measure is supported by board members of the Wasatch Integrated Waste District in Layton (the burn plant), which includes mayors from Davis County and Davis County commissioners.

Turning waste into energy has been a two-decades-long practice by the facility, which has processed three million tons of waste and in turn supplies Hill Air Force Base with 17 percent of its energy needs via steam.

The facility is able to generate 100,000 pounds of steam per hour, generating 1.6 megawatts of electricity, which is largely used to power the facility.

The measure, HB228, passed on an unanimous vote of the legislative committee and moves to the House for further consideration.

e-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com

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