Deschutes approves landfill diesel project

California firm wants to convert methane from waste into fuel

By Elon Glucklich / The Bulletin / @EGlucklich

Deschutes County commissioners have approved a California energy firm’s proposal to convert Knott Landfill waste into diesel fuel.

But any fuel extraction at the landfill is still likely a year or more away, since the project still needs to go through a land use and environmental quality review.

Irvine, Calif.-based Waste to Energy Group LLC has been negotiating with Deschutes County since 2011 for lease rights to install a steam boiler and fuel collection system at Knott Landfill. The company wants to inject steam under the landfill surface, speeding up waste decomposition, then convert the methane gas beneath the surface into liquid fuel.

Commissioners approved a contract Wednesday, giving Waste to Energy Group a 15-year lease to 1.5 acres at the landfill, though the terms are still under legal review by the county.

Waste to Energy also needs a permit from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to move forward, Timm Schimke, Deschutes County Solid Waste Director, said Wednesday.

Some neighbors have raised concerns over noise and pollution impacts from the project, which would extract methane gas from the landfill, located near High Desert Middle School off of Southeast 27th Street.

Schimke said the county worked with a California engineering firm to assess the project’s impact in response to those concerns.

The firm “saw no increased risk to health or the environment” after studying the proposal, Schimke said.

The county stands to receive either $240,000 a year or four percent of gross revenue from the Waste to Energy project, whichever figure is greater.

Waste to Energy is paying the full cost to install a boiler and fuel collector, estimated at $20 million.

Each of the three county commissioners voted to move the project forward.

Speeding up waste decomposition should lengthen Knott Landfill’s lifespan, commissioner Tammy Baney said, hopefully putting off conversations the county has had in the past over the need for a second landfill property.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, eglucklich@bendbulletin.com