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Officials break ground on gas-to-energy project

Photo by Avan Clark

Photo by Avan Clark

ALBANY, Ga. -- Albany and Dougherty County is on the front lines of the country's war on energy a top Marine official said Thursday, as Pentagon officials joined local government and corporate leaders to break ground on the U.S. Navy's first landfill gas-to-energy project.

The project is a first-of-its-kind partnership between the U.S. Navy, the Dougherty County Commission and Chevron Renewable Energy Solutions to pump methane -- a byproduct of decomposition -- from the Dougherty County Landfill on Gaissert Road to Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, where it will be converted to energy.

The event's key speaker, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy Thomas Hicks, praised both the staff and leadership of Dougherty County, MCLB-Albany and Chevron, saying that it is partnerships like these that will advance the administration's goal to reduce dependence on foreign oil and be better watchdogs of the environment.

"This partnership is the type of win-win-win relationship that will move the Navy and the country's energy program forward," Hicks said. "Not only have you taken on the secretary's goal, you have risen to the challenge of the first in the country to do it."

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard thanked the Marine Corps for its support but also made a special presentation to former Commissioner Chairman Gil Barrett, who chaired the Commission when the Gaissert and Fleming Road landfill site was chosen, enduring fierce Commission and government opposition.

A teary-eyed Barrett, who had just received the first-ever key to Dougherty County from Sinyard and MCLB-Albany Commanding Officer Col. Terry Williams, thanked those in attendance for their leadership and support.

"I can't say how proud I am of this landfill; you look around and see how beautiful it is and it's just something," Barrett said. "The people who supported it, and even the people who fought it, should realize now that this was one of the greatest things to come into Dougherty County."

Sinyard has said that it is largely the location of the landfill that has allowed the military to join in on the project. Barrett was instrumental in getting the site approved by the Commission in 1981.

Maj. General Carl Jensen, the commanding general of the Marine Corps Installations Command East, said the country is in the midst of an energy war here at home, and that initiatives to promote and provide American energy benefit everyone.

"Everyone knows we're in a war overseas, but we're also in a war stateside, a war on energy," Jensen said. "And I'm here to tell you that the United States Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy are in it to win it."

The project, which was largely developed and pushed on the county side by Assistant County Administrator and Solid Waste Director Mike McCoy and by Eddie Hunt, MCLB-Albany's Installation Energy manager for the Installation and Environment Division, has been in the works for three years and is expected to boost MCLB-Albany's renewable energy use by up to 22 percent.

The initiative puts the base at the top of military installations in terms of implementation of federally mandated green energy requirements and will launch the base closer to its goal of being the military's premier green installation.