Overlooked in the discussion of renewable energy and global warming is the role of local governments and their communities. They can make a huge contribution to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil and at the same time make the community more sustainable. This can be achieved by turning household trash, commercial debris and other discarded wastes at their landfill into electricity and biofuels that will power the community. Unlike the incinerator plants which burn waste to make electricity, the new conversion technologies are far more efficient and better suited for smaller, non urban communities. Private companies are willing to partner with local governments to build, finance and operate a waste to energy plant at the landfill. They no longer require large volumes of waste, found only in large urban areas, to be economical.

Based on the feasibility study done for Warrenton, Fauquier County, Virginia, the wastes buried at the community landfill could electrify 25 % of the homes and fuel all the school buses and public safety vehicles, while reducing the carbon footprint by nearly 10%. Since the study came out in 2007, several communities across the United States have partnered with private companies to proceed to build waste to energy plants at the landfill that will produce electricity for distributed generation to the community and/or ethanol or biodiesel. Chapter 8 of the book, Local Energy Independence, describes these projects which are underway. The conclusions of the study and the progress of these projects prove that small communities can make their own energy. The benefits are enormous (highlight link to benefits). It requires a public-private partnership to succeed with each partner committed to doing certain things – see Commitments

To succeed, government thinking has to change from 'waste disposal' to 'resource recovery' and this requires a shift in attitude and behavior. We need to recognize that wastes can be an asset, and not a liability that drains government budgets. Private companies are willing to help – at last count there were more than 560 offering to build and finance a plant with one of the newer conversion technologies. This does not require converting vast areas of natural forests into soy farms in the Amazon and oil palm plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia which will nearly 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide or corn and soybeans to make ethanol and biodiesel. It just requires wastes being buried in a hole at a landfill.

Don't Waste the Wastes

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Critical Renewable Energy Incentive Defeated

The Senate has rejected some renewable energy incentives including the popular Sec 1603 ARRA cash grant for 30% of the capital cost of the investment. Senate bill S.1813 was defeated 74-24 and proponents vow to try again.

Local Energy Independence