Santa Barbara to talk turning trash into energy today

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THE DAILY SOUND: By Cody Brumbaugh · June 19, 2012


When City officials meet today and Thursday, they will be discussing a vast waste management process that would extend the life of a landfill, create clean energy and reduce greenhouse gasses.


A new plant at the Tajiguas Landfill would be constructed to use anaerobic digestion of materials to create heat and convert that to energy thus reclaiming wasted resources.


“It’s the equivalent of taking 22,000 cars off the road,” said Matt Fore, the city’s environmental services manager. “It generates a Kilowatt of clean energy that would power the plant leaving the remaining power to go out to the grid and could power up to 800 homes.”


The same process used at water treatment plants to break down waste materials will be involved but with a more efficient technique. There are projects using similar technology are already in development in San Jose and Riverside County. San Jose’s plant is estimated to handle 400,000 tons of waste per year. But there is a possible rate increase for construction prices.


“It wouldn’t be much more than two to tree dollars a month,” Fore said.


The workshops held today and Thursday will be an opportunity to get everyone up to speed on the details and process.


“This project really requires regional cooperation and we need to educate ourselves about the details so we can make important decisions later this summer,” Mayor Helene Schneider said. “We really need to gauge the environmental impact this will have.”


Santa Barbara needs to sign off on the project for it to go any further. Goleta, Buellton and Solvang and unincorporated areas of the County are involved.


“Officials will be looking at what the value of this project will be going forward,” Fore said.


City Counsel member Cathy Murillo is open-minded to the project and thinks the council will approve but has some reservations.


“We really need to learn as much as we can,” she said. “I am cautious about the project, what I worry about is that we are focusing on waste at the end of the line, when we should be concentrating on reducing trash earlier on in the cycle.”


Fore thinks there are much more benefits to completing this project down the line.

“It will be a valuable expenditure of funds, “ he said. “It would do a greater job of reducing our trash and doing more with out trash to recapture our resources.”


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