Trash being turned into electricity for NV Energy customers


Many states across the U.S. are requiring electric utilities to provide higher percentages of renewable power to their customers.

In Nevada, the law is 25 percent by 2025 — one of the more stringent requirements in the West.

One proposal on the ballot would push that requirement to 50 percent by 2030. NV Energy is already close to eclipsing the 2025 requirement.

Once your trash is tossed into garbage can, you might think it’s reached it’s final destination, but it hasn’t.

Truckload after truckload, the 2,200-acre Apex landfill northeast of Las Vegas takes your trash. The resulting byproduct — a combination of gases — that historically are burned off.

“The gas was drawn from the landfill, something has to be done with it, that was traditionally flared off,” said Jeremy Walters, Republic Services.

That’s not the case anymore.

Republic Services turns it into electricity which goes to NV Energy customers.

There are about 190 wells spread all across the landfill and what they do is they collect all of the gas that’s created by the decomposing trash. All of the captured gas makes a stop at the bioplant.

“There’s a bacteria that’s cleaning the gas, it’s metabolizing, or it’s literally eating, things like hydrogen sulfide that are in that methane gas,” Walters said.

From there, it’s pumped up the hill to a small power plant where the gas powers turbines that generate electricity that goes to NV Energy customers.

“It would keep up and outpace customer load growth,” said Shane Pritchard, renewable energy director, NV Energy.

He says, the 11-and-a-half megawatt renewable energy power plant is a small but important part of the company’s 2,200 megawatt renewable energy portfolio which expands beyond the geothermal plants in the north and the solar fields in the south.

“We have hydroelectric, we have biomass, similar to the plant we have right behind us here, and we have a wind plant as well,” he said.

All told, the renewable resources make up between 22 and 23 percent of the electricity NV Energy provides to its customers.

The company says it’s goal is to double the amount of electricity it provides from renewable resources by 2023.

It’s currently in seeking bids to build a few dozen of renewable energy plants to be completed by 2021

“We’re trying to solicit 330 mw of renewable energy, we got over 100 bids from 18 companies covering 26 project sites,” Pritchard said.

NV Energy currently has 51 renewable energy projects and rooftop solar contributing power to the grid.

The utility is also seeking out proposals for batteries that would store excess electricity generated from renewable power plants like solar facilities when demand is low.

That would also help distribute the solar power even at night when solar panels can’t generate electricity.

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