Dougherty County, MCLB reach deal on landfill gas

ALBANY -- The commanding officer of the Marine Corps Logistics Base calls it a "win-win initiative for everyone."

Dougherty County Commissioners believe it will make money for local taxpayers and strengthen the local Marine base.

The "it" is a long-term agreement between Dougherty County and the U.S. Navy to utilize methane gas from the county landfill as an energy source at MCLB.

Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to approve a 20-year agreement in which the MCLB will use a green source of energy through the gas which is emitted from decomposing refuse at the landfill. The contract allows for one five-year renewal.

McCoy, assistant county administrator, said construction of the gas line and installation of other equipment needed to implement the project will take about 16 months.

Dougherty Count will spend a little more than $2.9 million from its reserve fund to finance its share of the project. The county must deliver the landfill gas to the Navy's treatment system.

The Navy will handle all processing expenses and pay for the pipeline through base property.

"From a Marine Corps perspective, this is big," said Col. Terry Williams, commanding officer of MCLB.

Williams said MCLB is under presidential and congressional mandates to reduce greenhouse emissions, produce more alternative energy sources and reduce energy consumption.

"Once up and operating, we will be at 22 percent of our total utility use from renewable," he said. "That's huge for us. The mandate is 7.5 percent."

Williams said the processing of the methane gas from the landfill will enable the MCLB Maintenance Center to continue operating during times of power outages.

The generator operated with methane gases will run independently if necessary, he said.

"We hope this partnership strengthens the base, helps keep our jobs and makes our base able to have more opportunities," said Jeff Sinyard, county commission chairman.

Dougherty County Administrator Richard Crowdis noted that the projected life span of the local landfill is 43 years. He said about $1.3 million must be spent next year to get the project operational.

Despite the almost $3 million overall expense, Crowdis said the operation should show a positive cash flow in 16 years. He noted those projects were conservative and the turnaround could occur two or three years before that.

The county's annual expenses are projected at slightly more than $21,000. Anticipated annual income is $187,000.