Closing a landfill is not as simple as covering the garbage with dirt, planting grass, locking the gate and walking away.
Household waste in landfills generates methane, which needs to be vented properly. The best way, the method being used in Munster now, is to convert the methane gas to electricity.
Already, the landfill provides enough power for Centennial Park, which sits on the site of the closed landfill. It even serves leftover electricity that will be sold to NIPSCO at 10 cents per kilowatt hour under a program the utility company began in 2011.
Methane from the decomposing garbage is fed through a compressor. The generator converts the methane to electricity.
Energy Systems Group of Newburgh, Ind., installed the equipment and has an agreement with the Munster Town Council to maintain the unit for five years at a cost of 3.24 cents per kilowatt hour plus a 2 percent annual escalator.
Funding for the project came from two grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and from the Munster Redevelopment Commission.
This is an environmentally responsible solution to both the need to dispose of the methane gas from the landfill and to generate electricity with minimal environmental impact.
The plan to sell excess electricity generated from the closed Munster landfill — now Centennial Park — shows a silk purse can indeed be made from a sow's ear.